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Part VIII: Adapting An EHR For All The Wrong Reasons

Here is the eighth installment of WRS Health’s 10-part series dedicated to Dr. Lawrence Gordon’s recent white paper, “10 Implementation Mistakes to Avoid: Why Practices Fail.” Each segment of the series examines one of the 10 most common implementation mistakes by medical practices when implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems.


The HITECH Act requires healthcare organizations to use “certified” EHR in order to qualify for stimulus fund payments. In addition to providing these assurances of certified products to the government, certification is also expected to assure providers that the products they are installing are capable of helping them achieve MU objectives.

Many practices implement an Electronic Health Record solely because they want to obtain Meaningful Use incentive money or are seeking to avoid penalties that will eventually be enforced for not having implemented an EHR.

Bazzoli warns that if they are adapting an EHR to get MU, physicians must be careful. “Healthcare organizations that want to ramp up their use of EHRs to achieve stimulus payments must carefully assess those potential payments and compare them to anticipated costs of the technology, services, time and effort needed to achieve compliance.”

In attempting to implement systems that achieve MU objectives, the largest risk for organizations, according to Bazzoli, is that they will rush to implement systems. He cautions, “This may lead to making hasty vendor choices, failing to get clinician buy-in and doing a careless job of achieving process change.”

In his article outlining his practice’s debacle with an EHR, Utah-based pediatrician Dr. Joseph Cramer warns that not knowing the reasons for implementation are equally detrimental. “Our failure as doctors was that we didn’t know what we wanted to do with the EHR. In retrospect, we were swept up in all the glory talk of digital healthcare before we really decided what was important.”

Cramer adds, “Our clinic is stuck. We are slowly moving toward universal adoption, but at a price much greater than any check we have written. You don’t have to repeat our mistakes. The national ARRA stimulus package has dollars to motivate more clinicians to purchase EHRs. Do it. Get an EHR, but please, please, please get the right one.”