NV practices large and small embrace EMRs for cost savings, quality gains

We get practically giddy over here at Fierce whenever someone in the mainstream media truly understands and puts together a truthful, coherent story about EMRs. Thus, kudos are in order for Marshall Allen of the Las Vegas Sun for his recent piece about the cost and benefits of EMRs, the federal stimulus and the experiences of two Sin City practices.

Southwest Medical Associates, a 250-physician group affiliated with Nevada's largest private health insurer, has been paperless since 2008 after a four-year, $5 million EMR implementation, and has already recouped the expense in drug savings alone and likely prevented many errors.

The process, of course, is much more difficult for a small, low-margin, primary-care practice like that of Dr. Tony Alamo (if that's not a name made for Vegas, I don't know what is). His three-physician practice saved on software by agreeing to test a system being developed by a cardiologist friend, but still spent $30,000 on hardware, the Sun reports. Alamo, 45, has had to overcome 20 years of practicing with paper charts, a process he calls "cumbersome" and "difficult," but still refers to it as "my comfort zone." Now, he pulls up records on a computer and shares the information with patients on monitors in each exam room.

If a mid-career, primary-care doctor in a small practice can make the switch even before the federal stimulus, there's got to be hope for the hundreds of thousands of other physicians that still tote around manila folders, right?

For more:
- check out this Las Vegas Sun piece