Issues To Consider When Offering Hospital-Subsidized EMRs

Posted on May 11, 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 www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Offering subsidized EMRs to doctors may be a good idea, but if they’re smart, the doctors will be very picky about the terms you offer. (After all, if they use your EMR, you’re in effect controlling part of their business!)

So I was interested to stumble over a nice list of questions to  ask hospitals before accepting an EMR deal.  Here’s the list, drawn from the excellent EHR & EMR Insights blog by EMR vendor SRSsoft:

  • Does the hospital EHR have a proven track record in your specialty?
  • Will the hospital EHR workflow be compatible with your practice specialty?
  • Will your physicians be required to exchange data with the sponsoring hospital?
  • Is the system interoperable with other, neighboring hospital systems?
  • Will learning, training, and use of the hospital system interfere with your practice’s productivity?
  • How will support be handled after initial implementation, and who pays for it?
  • Will the hospital’s EHR vendor assist you and your physicians with creating customizable templates?
  • Will the system aid—or obstruct—your ability to qualify for government incentives?
  • If there are problems, will the hospital’s EHR vendor ensure that the system is compatible with pursuing meaningful use?
  • Who will own your data?

I particularly like the questions regarding 1) the EMR’s track record, 2) the impact of EMR training on medical practice’s day-to-day productivity, 3) Whether the vendor would help with creating customizable templates and 4) who would own the data.

It seems to me that too often, partnerships like these are done on the basis of trust between  organizations rather than a detailed assessment of factors like these. Now, don’t get me wrong, trust is a good basis for starting talks on EMR sharing, but hospital and medical practices alike can get very badly burned by a deal like this if it doesn’t work. Let’s hear it for extra skepticism.