Making sure an EMR system is right for you

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Is every doctor and employee in your practice willing to put in the extra time and effort to implement an electronic medical records (EMR) system? Have you analyzed your practice's workflow processes and determined what features you'll need to improve these processes? Are you willing to take the time to check the vendor's financial stability? Will you personally visit a practice that uses the product?

Is every doctor and employee in your practice willing to put in the extra time and effort to implement an electronic medical records (EMR) system? Have you analyzed your practice's workflow processes and determined what features you'll need to improve these processes? Are you willing to take the time to check the vendor's financial stability? Will you personally visit a practice that uses the product?

These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself to ensure that you will continue to use the EMR system that you plan to purchase. According to American Medical News (12/11/2006), industry estimates show that up to 33% of EMRs fail within a year because of physician dissatisfaction. Moreover, smaller practices are more likely than larger practices to "de-install"-or stop using the system within a year-because they are less able to accurately determine their needs and compare them with various products.

Given the expense of installing an EMR system, physicians should arm themselves with the information they need to adequately evaluate the products on the market. To help, the federal government has relaxed Stark laws to allow hospitals to share EMR technology, training, and support with physicians.

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