News on AZ EMR failures generates new debate

The news late last month that the Phoenix, AZ area may have had more than its fair share of EMR failures has generated lots of debate. Are the de-installations a result of the high rate of attempted EMR adoptions in the first place? After all, former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano--now the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security--signed an executive order in 2005 that effectively mandated the use of EMRs in the state by 2010.

This reporter got a call from Healthcare IT News this week about an article that appeared in the May issue of MD Net Guide on the subject of EMR failures. My best guess is that the new rush to get systems in place by the January 2011 start of the national EMR incentive program may be responsible for a few sloppy installations. Usability might be another factor, as evidenced by a HIMSS report that FierceHealthIT cited earlier this week.

A Phoenix-based contributor to the Examiner reports speaking to one large practice that hasn't used much of the functionality in its EMR. "There were various reasons for this: [The physicians] did not yet know how to best access all the functions (thus overlapping with training issues) and they were not sure the functionality that they needed was actually part of the system. I have also heard reports of practices buying systems with too many 'bells and whistles' that they didn't need and that affected their use of the EMR," the story says.

For more reasons and speculation on why EMRs fail and why Arizona might stand out:
- check out this Examiner piece from Phoenix
- read this MDNG story on the pitfalls of EMR implementation