Rethinking Healthcare

Medical practices face death by software

Medical practices face death by software

Posting in Government

What happens to stimulus money when the system bought with that money turns out to be a lemon? Or is your choice of software using stimulus money your final answer?

When I went in for an eye procedure a few years ago I chided my surgeon over his lack of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software.

"We had it," he said calmly. "We took it out."

Depending on who is doing the figuring, anywhere from 19% to 30% of all EMR systems are de-installed later. Getting something that was certified by CCHIT is no guarantee of success.

CCHIT, the Certification Committee for Healthcare Information Technology, is the industry's certification agency for health IT software.

My eye surgeon canned his system because it could not deal with a new data format. Others can theirs because of training issues, or lack of support. Failure seems especially common in small practices, which are under the most pressure to buy.

Consultant Shahid Shah told American Medical News early this year that one key to success is to phase in the software. But CCHIT only certifies complete suites, and is still bidding to control the approval process for the Obama stimulus passed early this year.

The government says that by 2011 practices that want subsidies need to check for adverse drug reactions. But such alerts are routinely ignored today. If the alarm is ignored does it make a sound?

This is a problem both reformers and the government need to face up to. What happens to stimulus money when the system bought with that money turns out to be a lemon? Or is your choice of software using stimulus money your final answer?

If it is a lot of practices are going to go out of business. Call it death by software. (Pictured is where the first of my ancestors to be born in the U.S. is buried, alongside my grandfather, World War I veteran Edmund O'Donnell. Rest in peace, grandpa.)

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure