Simplifying the EMR Decision

Updated: June 01, 2010

I believe that an EMR decision is a combination of factors. Most EMR consultants promote that such a decision is a medical or technical one. However, there is also a social implications at both the microscopic level of an individual doctor and their patients and at a more macroscopic level (interactions with government). This additional factor is rarely mentioned and if mentioned, it is given as a constraint or an incentive. Take the case of the the ARRA/HITECH regulations. Sales pitches will focus on the financial incentives or penalties that can accrue to the purchaser.

But at a more strategic level what does an EMR bring to a doctor or hospital? For many doctor and employee users, it's an issue of quality of life, either professional or personal.

A crucial element in the professional quality of life is a doctor's "risk clock". It is the measure of the professional and legal liability risk of each patient encounter. An internal voice, doctors use it to shuffle a myriad of facts to discern and manage difficult medical conditions. How an EMR might help or hurt this clock is a critical condition to the use of an EMR.

Also strategic is the doctor-user's personal life. If an EMR means getting home on time instead of staying at the hospital doing charting is a significant incentive. Can the EMR do this for the doctor user? That's what is seldom highlighted.

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