No Time to Wait

As most medical practitioners know by now, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 relates to the implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Further, this piece of the act offers physicians a financial incentive to the tune of $44,000 for full installation and meaningful use of the EMR system.

The caveat to this enticement is that the EMR system must be implemented, functional and meet “meaningful use” criteria by the year 2012. Still, many practitioners have yet to make the first steps towards either reviewing or purchasing an EMR system for their own practice. Perhaps these physicians believe that the EMR system will prove to be too cumbersome, are reluctant to make the investment or they are simply resistant to change.

Whatever the logic behind a failure to jump aboard the EMR train, those who have resisted need to start the EMR process sooner rather than later. Not only is the federal government offering the aforementioned $44,000 in incentive but in the coming years Medicare reimbursement rates will drop for those who have not yet implemented an EMR system. In fact, Medicare rates will drop by 1% by 2015 and by 2% by 2017.

There are several reasons to not wait until the very last minute to fully install an EMR system in a medical office. First, it may take some time to really examine the EMR options currently on the market and select one that is a good fit for each medical practice and their related specialty

Also, EMR software providers will no doubt be getting busier as the 2012 deadline approaches for the $44,000 that the federal government is offering in incentive.  In order to have their full attention and time, physician offices should begin working with the EMR software provider now.

Finally, it may take some time for all medical office members to get up to speed on the system and be able to meet the EMR “meaningful use” criteria as established by the government. In order for the staff to not feel pressured and to feel absolutely comfortable with the EMR system, offices should allow plenty of time for set up, implementation, training and trouble shooting.