Love them or hate them, electronic health record (EHR) systems are a part of healthcare today.
But that doesn’t mean physicians are always content with the first—or even second or third—system they select for their practice. According to Medical Economics’ 2017 EHR Report, 62% of all respondents have switched EHRs during their career.
While nearly half of that group say a change in employment status or practice location caused the move, the other half note a variety of deficits in their previous system that led them to look for a replacement.
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No matter the reason for the change, it’s vital to have the right tools to improve patient care, says Robert Rowley, MD, a Hayward, California-based primary care physician and health IT consultant.
“EHRs are part of medical practice, part of what you do [as a physician] and you just have to find the one that seems to work best,” he says. “Increasingly, as physicians move away from what we do in our four walls as the basis of getting paid, and more toward measuring and reporting value to networks as part of value-based care, you want to have systems that those networks can use.”
So whether it is a large hospital system or a small private practice, a switch will come if the system can’t collect, analyze and report data that are critical to patient care—and to physician pay with the shift away from fee-for-service reimbursement.
Connectivity is key
Seeking better connectivity with their healthcare partners in the region for population health and other initiatives, Rowley and his colleagues are in the process of their own move to an Epic EHR. They believe the switch will increase access to patient records and accompanying data to meet value-based measures under Medicare payment reform and private payer programs more effectively.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 2017 EHR Report results
So the short-term hassles of changing systems will be more than offset by the long-term benefits of sharing patient health data, he says. “As we move more toward coordinated care and networks and systems that reimburse increasingly on value-based care, we need other people to see that information really easily,” Rowley notes. “From the standpoint of a small practice, anything that reduces the work burden on my staff is welcome.”