The EMR information quest

True, the MGMA show isn't primarily focused on health IT, but IT problems are are going to be a hot topic nonetheless. After all, if nothing else, everyone from state governments to health plans to the almighty CMS wants to see doctors adopt EMRs and use e-prescribing technology. Implementing either one is likely to be an expensive, complex project--and one that will eat your practice for lunch if you're not careful. 

This year, doctors who go to MGMA should take every chance they can to talk about their IT options, not just the hardware on display on the sprawling exhibit hall floor, but also the strategies that colleagues are using to edge their way into the new technology. After all, bear in mind that some important deadlines are approaching in the next year or two, after which CMS will start taking a bite out of your Medicare compensation if you don't.

When it comes to learning more about EMRs, e-prescribing and other practice-friendly options, you'll be hit with a deluge of information, including sessions like: "EMR Investment: Are You Getting Your Money's Worth?," (CON 1011, Wed., October 22). And of course, you can also count on getting as much product information as you could ever hope for from various vendors who, despite the fact that they want to sell you something, can often provide some useful background on key industry technologies (how their "hosted" EMR differs from one you have to install yourself, for example, or how open source products like WorldVistA offer different benefits than commercial products from, say, NextGen.)

Even with all of that information available, you may still leave the show wondering what you learned and how to incorporate it into your practice. But even if you do, it's critical to see what you can find out. When it comes to major IT initiatives like EMRs, the truth is that you can run, but you can't hide.