There are many reasons for and against EHR adoption...

EHR software systems have been around for over a decade. So why has the adoption rate been so low? And why is there now a mad push for providers to adopt the technology? There are several good explanations for that:

Compelling Reasons: People naturally resist change. Especially significant change, which is what EHR technology represents. Adopting an EHR system is not a minor undertaking. It is a sea change... a complete paradigm shift if you will... in the way Information Technology is now being deployed in the health care industry. As a medical provider, you must "see" the value of making this transition from paper based records to a computerized database - with all the attendant benefits that it will offer in the long run. The government incentives are nice, but the decision to adopt EHR needs to be based on whether you think it is the "right thing to do" for your patients, your practice, and the industry as a whole.

Product Maturity: By now you have probably come to understand much more about EHR systems, what they do, and roughly how much they cost. EHR technology is not new, but it is much more mature than it used to be. Practice Management (PM) functions have been integrated into EHR systems such that the software will now provide most of the practice's core medical IT needs... except for email, accounting, and a few other business processes outside the scope of EHR/PM.

Cost: Prices for EHR/PM software, while still relatively expensive, have incrementally declined as the technology has matured. There are approximately one hundred (+100) vendors that are now competing in the EHR/PM marketplace. These vendors, in many cases, spend ten's of millions of dollars to develop, test, and market these systems. However, market maturity and competition will continue to push prices lower. There will likely be an inevitable shakeout... with some vendors merging and others that will not survive.

Technology: The Internet has now become the backbone for much of the world's commerce. The level of maturity, lower cost, and higher performance of our computing hardware and software that run our world has improved tremendously in the past decade or so. It is much easier today to share information between disparate systems than it used to be. This is because of well written standards, specifications, and new programming tools that make it easier to connect systems and share information. The health care industry is now well positioned to take advantage of these new technologies and to begin connecting all of the various entities that need to share information. This will ultimately drive increased efficiencies, improve quality of care, and reduce costs. At least that's the hope and the promise...

In Conclusion: All of the above factors have conspired with an overwhelming need to reduce health care costs and improve the quality of care. The way to achieve this goal is by collectively sharing information in a safe and positive manner. What has been lacking is a catalyst to get EHR technology adoption started in earnest. The Federal government has now stepped up and offered significant incentives for providers to adopt mature and certified EHR technology and to begin using it to achieve the stated goals. These incentives will help offset much of the cost of EHR adoption. Providers will, however, be keen to ensure that they do not make the mistake of picking the wrong EHR system (or vendor) and that they get the maximum possible ROI on their investment. The way to achieve that goal is to thoroughly research the issues and to pick the right implementation partners that can help make the transition as smooth as possible.

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