Doctors Seldom Listen When Hospitals Recommend EMRs

Posted on March 29, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or

Wouldn’t it be nice if doctors and hospitals had a big influence on which EMR medical practices chose?  Everybody would interoperate, training would be, well, centralized if nothing else, and the EMR implementation could get rolling faster.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be how things are going.  In fact, a new survey suggests most practices go their own way when it comes to buying EMRs.  The survey, by FiercePracticeManagement, concluded that almost three-quarters of practices responding were not going to or not likely to buy the EMR recommended by their hospital partner.

According to the survey, which polled 260 physicians at independent and hospital-owned practices, roughly 53 percent of hospital- or system-owned practices are buying or plan to buy the recommended product. (Big surprise — hey, wait, why is the stat for owned/employed physicians as low as 53 percent? Another story for another day.)  Anyway, almost 70 percent of independent practices weren’t on board with their hospital’s recommended EMR.

What should hospitals do to influence affiliated practices to buy in?  Well, it seems pretty clear that sales propaganda isn’t going to cut it. However, the study did suggests that two factors can indeed influence physicians: Offering technical and financial support, and stressing the business reasons for having interoperable EMRs.

Another way to drive physician interest, and perhaps the strongest, seems to be offering access to specialty-related capabilities within the EMR.  Practices are increasingly hungry for specialty-specific EMRs, but might be motivated by an EMR which has a mature specialty-specific module, the researchers suggest.