November 19, 2009
Caveat Emptor. Don’t be fooled by offers from Healthcare IT (HIT) vendors that seem too good to be true. Some salespeople will be very aggressive trying to persuade physicians to buy their EHR, promising a pot of gold at the end of the ARRA rainbow and pushing for a quick decision. In fact, there may be an implementation thunderstorm awaiting.
While federal incentives are a great benefit to HIT adoption, one should act with caution. Robert Tennant, MA, senior policy adviser, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Government Affairs Department summed it up well in a recent issue of MGMA Connexion magazine, “If you want to take full advantages of the benefits, you should develop a plan to maximize efficiency, minimize cost and disruption and prepare your practice for the challenges.”
Tennant goes into detail on actions that can minimize the chance of failure when selecting an IT solution, including viewing many product demonstrations to narrow options, visiting similar practices to network and share stories, choosing hardware devices that fit physician workflow. Most primary care and specialty societies now have tools to help you decide, and may even rate some of the products (my society, the American Gastroenterological Association, put together a booklet to aid gastroenterologists in choosing an EMR that will work for a GI practice).
Choosing technology may be a daunting task, but being cautions and alert can lead to some astute decisions. Having HIT that fits your practice can save lots of time and money, but having the wrong HIT can be pretty disruptive to a practice. Take your time, do it right.
Peter Kaufman, MD