Physician Engagement Vital to EMR Implementation

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , April 14, 2011

Many physician leaders are hopeful for the federal incentive funds. funds the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2011 shows that 44% of physician leaders plan to take advantage of federal funds to "install or upgrade" an EHR; with another 13% saying they won't be eligible to receive funds until after 2011. About 24% say it was "too early to tell" and 3% say physicians weren't on board.

Health leaders certainly know about frustrations in starting up EMRs. Steve Johnson, CEO of Susquehanna Health in Williamsport, PA, told the American Hospital Association representatives at their membership meeting in Washington DC this week about some of the problems he faced in beginning an EMR system.

His hospital system relied on a chief medical information officer to handle all the issues, says Johnson. The rest of the staff, however, depended too much on her, too, Johnson says. The consistent refrain of medical and clinical staff: "I'm not going to deal with IT, Dr. Jane will do it," he adds. They figured: "She'll take care of it. She'll do it. That was the mantra from the medical staff to a lot of the clinical staff," he recalls.

The chief medical information officer left her post, and the rest of the hospital system leadership were left in the dark as far as EMRs were concerned, Johnson says. Hospital leadership, however, working with physicians, found ways to improve their situation and aren't looking back. After the leadership left, Johnson says a chief medical officer began running the system, and a physician champion was identified to help and "all of a sudden there was engagement. It is something we wish we [had] started [with] right off the bat."

Generally, according to MGMA, physician practice ownership has influenced EHR implementation and optimization. "Interestingly, independent medical practices were more likely to have a fully implemented and optimized EMR than their peers owned by hospital systems," the MGMA report states.


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