Wednesday, July 1, 2009

EMR: The Buyer's Dilemma

Catch-22. Cart-before-the-horse. Chickens-before-they-hatch.

Pick an idiom. It seems from your email messages that any of the above encapsulates the conundrum of buying an EMR system before it has been certified. And we at IO Practiceware feel your pain. But we'd also like to put you at ease. But not in a sleazy way, involving low lighting or Barry Manilow music. Because, c'mon, Barry Manilow makes you uncomfortable, and you know it.

You may have many reasons to delay your EMR decision until next year or beyond, but concerns about CCHIT certification should not be one of them. IO Practiceware -- and all other EMR vendors -- have no choice but to follow the ARRA rules. It's true that certain consultants and other industry figures say that practices must wait until vendors get certified -- but this presumes that there's a high level of uncertainty and/or ambiguity surrounding the process and guidelines for certification. But there simply is not. Companies can either choose to take the necessary steps or choose not to.

For everyone's sake, we choose: certification.

And, it's like, um, obvious. Not only are we being compliant for our customers' sake, but getting certified is an unconditional must if we -- or any company -- hope to remain on the market as a viable EMR vendor.

IO Practiceware will be certified as an EMR-C ("Comprehensive"), as opposed to -M ("Module"), by CCHIT for the 2011-2012 period -- which is the soonest possible period for all vendors. (There is no freestanding 2009-2010 certification. In fact, all currently CCHIT certified vendors must be re-certified for the new period.) Testing will begin in September 2009, and we are gearing up for this process by developing all the necessary enhancements for our software. (Here is an article that breaks down the timeline in greater detail.)

So, believe it or not, you can start to breathe easy. In a world of relative uncertainty and inexplicability -- where haircuts like this achieve national celebrity -- CCHIT certification should be a comfort, not a source of angst. Given the recent revisions to its criteria, CCHIT has become a means by which EMR can achieve high functionality, uniformity, and interconnectivity. Vendors like IO Practiceware, committed to the success of customers and the EMR industry, will do what it takes, get certified, and work to improve American health care.


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