All EMR Are The Same

"I've looked at so many systems, they're all the same - just tell me how much is yours..."
I hear this every day. So many of my colleagues at various EMR vendor companies echo this.
So, are they really the same? Yes and No. Let me break it down.
Yes they are the same, if... All you need is a 'vehicle' to go from here to there, then all cars are the same, without taking into consideration quality, manufacturer, long term value, resell value, comfort and so on. When it comes to EMR, they are all the same if -
  • the only reason you are getting an EMR is to get the incentive money from CMS
  • you believe your practice is so efficient, there is no scope or room for improvement
  • you think of EMR as just an 'island of automation' without consideration of other moving parts of your practice
  • you think of your Practice as a center for patient care, which is great; however you don't run it as a true 'business' trying to bring efficiency, increase productivity and therefore profitability.
  • you fail to recognize the benefit of ROI. Unfortunately, most practices run on a weekly/monthly cash basis rather than as an 'enterprise' that looks at return on investment
  • you fail to ask a critical question to your prospective vendor - 'tell me the background of this company/product'.
I will elaborate on the last bullet point - "Tell me the background of this company/product" a little bit later.
No, not all EMR software companies are the same.

  • Who is the founder of the company?
  • Does that person have an IT background.
  • If the founder is a physician what is the role of the physician - just an investor, or, an active designer of the system?
  • Does the company have a physician as a partner or owns 90% or majority off the company?
  • Where is the support based?
  • Who are the people that provide the support? Is it clinical people or information technology people? What are the credentials off the support people?
Now let me talk about why it is important to find out about the background of the company/product.
If you look at the history of EMR software, it is clear that originally medical record software was created just to record clinical charts. Billing software was the first piece of technology for healthcare. They did not talk to each other in the beginning. Then everyone realized that clinical charting software and billing software need to talk to each other to become efficient. However they were on different database platforms. They were then ultimately 'interfaced' - NOT - 'integrated on one platform'. May not matter to you, but there is a huge difference.

If a vendor started off as an EMR company and then added or merged a billing component to it, that shows that the emphasis is more on clinical documentation, and vice versa. It would be ideal to find a vendor who had the vision to create a system with a common database trying to optimize the business off a medical practice to begin with.

What would you call such a system? Practice Management System? I would call it Practice Business System. It sounds like a new term, but if you keep it in your mind it will allow you to focus on what you need and how to approach vendors when considering a 'system' for your Business; not just clinical charting.