CMS to offer physicians free EMR system

September 1, 2005

Getting access to an electronic medical record (EMR) system just got easier for office-based physicians—and less costly.

Getting access to an electronic medical record (EMR) system just got easier for office-based physicians-and less costly. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is now offering a modified version of an EMR system called Vista, which has been used for two decades by hospitals, clinics, and physicians in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Better yet, the software is being given to physicians free of charge.

The software giveaway is expected to result in substantial savings for office practices looking to computerize their health records. According to The New York Times (7/21/05), each physician in a practice could pay about $20,000 to $25,000 to start with a commercial EMR system. But these systems hold the promise of improving patient care by helping to reduce medical errors.

Some physicians, however, are wary of the free program. The Vista system has a reputation for being difficult to install. Medicare's version of the system for office practices is supposed to be easier to use. In addition, Medicare will provide physicians with a list of companies that can install and maintain the system.