Guest Column | July 15, 2009

Guest Column: 'EMR Light' Something Right For Healthcare Now

By Tim Wacker

EMR, EHR, HL7, CCHIT, PQRI, e-prescribe. This is but a sample of the alphabet soup office managers are served at work these days as the electronic age transforms healthcare into a more painless, paperless product.

Add on $20B in fresh federal funding aimed at accelerating this transformation and you've got a caldron of complex computer technology new to the market that has practice managers hitting the brakes until the technology—and legislation—gets sorted out. There's nothing painless about it.

"The government is giving us a carrot with the stimulus incentives, but the stick is soon to follow," said Todd Blum, CEO for Ear, Nose, and Throat of South Florida. "The question for us now is not what we're going to do with this technology, but what is the government going to force us to do with it? We're taking the wait-and-see approach."

Blum is not alone. Last year, in a national survey of physicians, only four percent of respondents reported having a fully functional electronic-records system. Many spoken with this year say the rush of federal incentives to expand interest in this technology has only complicated the picture.