Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Will Patients select their MD according to Who Has an EMR??

Although I was unable to attend the Consumer Directed Health Care Conference in Las Vegas t his past week (CDHCC) I have been able to follow some important information published on their web site.

Another Reason to Adopt Electronic Medical Recordsby Scott MacStravic
April 30, 2007 at 9:40 pm · Filed under Health IT

A recent Accenture survey found that two-thirds of consumers responding indicated that having an EMR system or not played a role in their selection of a physician. Moreover, a little over half of these consumers said that they would be willing to pay a reasonable extra amount to cover the costs of such a system. Despite this consumer preference, only about 10% of practices and 25% of doctors have EMR systems in place. The cost of implementing and maintaining the system is the overwhelming barrier, with 86% of physicians reporting that as a concern. [“Survey Finds Patients Favor Doctors Using EMRs” E-Health Trend Watch Apr 27, 2007 (www.hcpro.com)]
This consumer attitude adds to the many quality and efficiency reasons for physicians to adopt EMR systems. Fortunately, governments, employer coalitions, and hospitals are indicating a willingness to support physicians’ efforts to digitalize their records systems, and laws against hospitals helping are being relaxed. But another reason emerged in a breakout presentation at the World Healthcare Congress this week.
During the presentation of Regence BlueCross BlueShield and the software firm, Kryptiq Corporation, both in the Northwest, the preference of at least that employer for physician practices with EMR systems was made clear. This makes good business sense for Kryptiq, since it is in the software business, but also because of the advantages the EMRs offer in employee health management.
Almost all the current pressure on physicians to adopt EMR systems focuses on their importance in sickness care. They enable physicians to more quickly access information needed to diagnose and treat patients who are ill, to avoid duplication of tests in making diagnoses, and avoid contraindicated medications in treatment, for example. They also facilitate coding and billing, so help practices in managing cash flow.\
Growing importance is being given to the prospect of sharing EMR information across practices, to improve continuity of care when multiple practices are involved in an episode of care, for example. Regional Health Information Organizations are emerging as ways to enable sharing of data by practices when patients seek care away from their usual sources, perhaps in emergencies such as hurricane Katrina.
But EMRs are also excellent foundations for health management, for preventing and catching early risks and diseases that can be managed in ways that reduce direct sickness care costs, but also worker absences, impaired performance while at work (“presenteeism”), disability wage replacement costs and other labor costs to employers. And employers can influence the physician selection of hundreds, even thousands of employees.
Kryptiq considers the presence of EMRs in deciding which physician practices to include in its provider network, for example, and selected GreenField Health System in Portland, OR as a partner in its effort to manage the health of its employees, not simply deliver sickness care. The founder of GreenField Health serves on the Kryptiq board, while GreenField is also a customer for Kryptiq’s secure online communications system for communicating with patients. Such communications improve the efficiency of practices by eliminating unnecessary office visits, while providing the foundation for ongoing health improvement and maintenance efforts.
In addition to using EMRs as one factor in choosing practices for provider networks, employers can use EMR-enabled performance data on how well practices are doing in managing employee health to inform individual employee choices of personal physicians. When employee performance makes a difference to their compensation and career prospects, and health has a significant impact on their performance, this adds another reason for patients to prefer physicians with EMRs.
My comment

This is obviously a biased survey, since it was performed by businesses that stand to gain from IT adoption.
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