Insurers leery of EMRs as a liability in the near term

EMRs may not be the magic liability bullet insurers once thought. In fact, a recent study found that EMRs may actually increase the number of liability claims brought against insurers, according to a new report from Hartford, Conn.-based Conning Research and Consulting, American Medical News reports.

The problem: In the near term, as hospitals and providers adjust to new electronic processes, insurers should expect data entry errors, coding and data input mistakes, and interoperability problems with software, all of which may drive up liability claims. Also, attorneys will have easier access to patient data, making it more likely they'll pursue claims.

David Troxel, medical director for The Doctors Company in Napa, Calif., points to a number of possible liability problems for physicians using EMRs, including becoming inured to low-level system alerts, and missing a major notification, as well as failing to take action on critical information that is delivered electronically.

All of these are likely to be short-term failings, however. Research in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that in the long run, EMRs should reduce medical errors and mistakes, improve documentation and otherwise cut the number of liability claims that insurers face.

The good news: While they haven't ponied up yet, insurance companies may eventually offer discounts to hospitals and practices that have well-established EMRs, insurance experts tell amednews.

To learn more:
- read this American Medical News article
- here's the New England Journal of Medicine study