SRSsoft exec: Most EMRs are poorly designed, complicate 'meaningful use'

It's likely a combination of reluctance to change and poorly designed systems that has held back wider EMR adoption, though opinions do differ greatly. Jack Callahan, executive VP at "hybrid" EMR vendor SRSsoft, Montvale, N.J., clearly believes that systems design is more at fault.

In response to a recent discussion of slow EMR uptake on the EMR and HIPAA blog, Callahan wrote what blog author John Lynn calls a "passionate" email, which Lynn published on his related EMR and EHR blog. "A major reason why the rate of EMR adoption is so slow is that, despite vendor claims, the actual needs and priorities of the busy, practicing provider are not built in," Callahan says. "I've worked closely with three EMR companies, and am aware of more than 300 EMR products, almost all of which, like lemmings, have decided to follow the old CCHIT design-and-development pathway over the cliff," adds Callahan, clearly no fan of the prevailing certification process.

He makes the argument that the old way won't get providers to meaningful use, and thus qualify them for Medicare and Medicaid bonus payments starting next year. "Vendors can also 'guarantee' they have passed 'certification' to providers, who may assume that this means that Meaningful Use is also guaranteed; however, vendors have no accountability for Meaningful Use, only for certification. That chicken will come home to roost in 2011," Callahan writes.

"Providers will do best to not use the ARRA incentives as a criterion for adopting an EMR. They should buy an EMR because it makes sense to improve their practice," Callahan adds, "and they should find one that truly fits the way they practice medicine. Meaningful Use should not mean hours of entering data into a menu-driven system. Converting from paper to electronic records provides probably 70 percent of the benefit of adopting the right EMR, and every single practice will benefit greatly from that alone. Anything else is gravy. And there is lots of gravy to be had, with the right choice. Unfortunately, a bad choice can leave you with a very expensive, unusable, 'certified' monstrosity."

Other than that, what's the problem, right?

For more:
- read this EMR and EHR blog post