Whenever you read an article about Electronic Medical Records (EMR) certification, a familiar statement will always follow. It’s the one which goes like this ’The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), established and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), is in place to set initial standards, implementation specifications and certification’..’, yes, we know the rest. So basically a certified EMR is in accordance with the guidelines set by the governing body. The question however, is whether the certified EMR improves overall practice performance and quality of care, be it a free EMR or not.
Over 1,700 certified EMRs are present in the industry today, but even though they are certified it is still up to the providers to ensure that the EMR is being used in a meaningful way. Providers need to ensure that the EMR is being used as per the guidelines set by the governing body. In order to achieve this goal, medical experts and their administrative personnel have to be trained in accordance with the best practices defined for the certified EMR. This is the difficult task.
To date, when a medical expert is implementing a certified EMR, there are many workflows which they simply never perform and to top it off they will ask you to show that process once and inform you that this is never happening. It’s not negligence on their part; they simply are not accustomed to it, which is why training is a vital component during EMR implementation. This is where the trainer can display the wealth of features a certified EMR has and familiarize the user with it. A note that all EMR vendor trainers should keep in mind is to inform the practice user about the essence of EMR workflows and features, and make them understand why they should be used religiously. If a certified EMR is not used in a meaningful way, the whole foundation on which it was built will be meaningless.
The point being made is that a certified EMR should be taken seriously, but why? Some recent studies by AMA have shown that the certification criteria for electronic medical records lack usability. Current certification requirements do not put emphasis on patient safety and HIE connectivity. Many physicians also have to face the burden of additional costs when the EMR they are using gets discontinued.
If the certification is revised, many medical experts who have successfully demonstrated Meaningful Use would consider their efforts as pointless, because after all one of the core principles of a certified EMR is to assist the physicians to deliver care in the most meaningful way. The fact that more than 1,700 certified EMRs are present in the industry today brings us to the conclusion that there is diversity when implementing an EMR best fit for any practice setting.
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