Massachusetts Medical Society gung-ho for EHRs

September 22, 2006

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS), which has strongly advocated e-prescribing and helped develop the Continuity of Care Record, has now set another example for state medical societies by pushing hard for EHR adoption by its 18,400 members.

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS), which has strongly advocated e-prescribing and helped develop the Continuity of Care Record, has now set another example for state medical societies by pushing hard for EHR adoption by its 18,400 members. Recently, the MMS agreed to endorse four EHR vendors—Allscripts, e-MDs, eClinicalWorks, and NextGen—in return for certain commitments.

While three of the vendors are providing "modest" discounts to MMS members, and all but e-MDs are offering ASP-model as well as client/server EHRs, the real significance of the vendor agreements lies in the companies' commitment to support EHR implementation and practice education, says ob/gyn B. Dale Magee, president-elect of the society.

Practices that choose one of the preferred products can obtain model contracts from the MMS. These contracts, says Magee, require the vendors to provide adequate training of both physicians and staff. The companies must also send their trainers back to help practices with later stages of implementation. There are other provisions dealing with such things as access to and ownership of patient data. Practices that buy their systems under these agreements can contact the society if they run into any problems.

In addition, notes Magee, the MMS is offering to send its own employees into offices to do pre-purchase workflow analysis. While practices have to pay for this, the price is substantially less than retail, he says. And the workflow analysis will help ensure that when practices install EHRs, they won't fall flat on their faces.

The MMS' efforts in this area complement those of Medicare QIOs that are helping doctors prepare for and implement EHRs across the country. And its endorsement of EHR vendors recalls the pioneering efforts of the AAFP, which three years ago formed an alliance with nine software vendors to ensure that their products and services would help family physicians. Today, there are 100 vendors in the alliance (some of which offer discounts to FPs), and about 30 percent of family doctors are using EHRs, according to the AAFP.