By Angela K. Dinh
Editor's note: This article updates the February 2006 Journal of AHIMA column "Resources to Assist Physician Office EHR Selection and Implementation."
[Note: The links in this article were accurate at the time of publication.]
EHR Public and Private Initiatives
Several government-sponsored and private initiatives are under way with an explicit purpose to equip physician practices with EHRs. These groups provide a wealth of information, typically well organized and available at no charge.
American Academy of Family Physician's Center for Health Information Technology-a major collaboration of physician organizations engaged in the effort to disseminate information to promote EHR adoption
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)-brings health IT implementation to the forefront. Check your state to see how funds are being dispersed. The following Web sites provide analyses and further information about ARRA:
California HealthCare Foundation (in partnership with Community Clinics Initiative)-engaged in the California Community Clinics EHR Assessment and Readiness Project
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' e-Prescribing Incentive Initiative-created to help advance the use of technology in healthcare
Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology-established to accelerate the adoption of robust, interoperable health IT throughout the US healthcare system, by creating an efficient, credible, sustainable mechanism for the certification of health IT products
Doctor's Office Quality-Information Technology's "Selected Resource List for EHR Systems Selection"
eHealth Initiative-an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to drive improvement in the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through information and information technology
EHR Collaborative-a group of organizations representing key stake- holders, whose goal is to advance the adoption of information standards for healthcare
Michigan Electronic Medical Record Initiative-a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the implementation of a statewide, standardized electronic medical record in Michigan
Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology-established by executive order to facilitate the effective use of information technology and collaborate with the various sectors in the health-care industry to advance widespread use of interoperable EHRs
Internet EMR/EHR Resources
There is abundant information available on the Internet, including how-to articles, buyers' guides, best practices, worksheets, and other tools. AHIMA has compiled some of the most reputable sources for you and encourage you to use these as a starting point as you assist physician practices. In many of these sites you'll find additional links to other sites with valuable information. As with any Internet search, review information objectively and always consider the source. For example, look for advertisement labels and conflict-of-interest disclosures on all Web sites and articles.
AHIMA articles and best practices available free to the public:
AHIMA e-HIM resources
American Academy of Family Practitioners' Center for Health IT articles and resources
American Medical Association's "HIT Donations: A Guide for Physicians"
California HealthCare Foundation's "Electronic Medical Records: Lessons from Small Physician Practices"
EHR Central @ the Providers Edge-offers an array of articles and resources related to electronic health records and implementation as well as frequently asked questions books and case studies
EMR Consultant-free service to physicians and other healthcare providers educating healthcare professionals and organizations about the vast array of EHR products on the market
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society EHR resources
Medical Group Management Association resources:
Physicians Practice "EMR Shopping? Finding Your Way in a Crowded Marketplace"
Reed Gelzer's "The EAR Party's End"
Vendor Resources and Resources to Identify and Evaluate Vendors
Many vendors have excellent materials; after all, it is to their advantage to help you recommend the EHR that will be the best fit for a physician practice. It is recommended that you visit various vendor Web sites to research and review their resources. You'll find many as you begin to investigate specific software products. AHIMA encourages you to use vendors' materials, but don't let vendors, particularly any one vendor, be your sole source of information. Seek confirmatory information and other more objective sources as well.
Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology
- "KLAS EMR Toolkit" helps providers make informed choices regarding stimulus-related technology decisions (free to providers only; fee for all others)
- Specialty reports-in-depth vendor performance reviews covering specific areas of interest to health-care providers
PhysiciansEHR.com vendor directory
Other Resources and Use Cases
Lastly, seek out those who have paved the way and learn from their experiences. Take advantage of listservs to network with others working with physician practices and take the time to read case studies.
Adler, Kenneth G. "Why It's Time to Purchase an Electronic Health Record System." Family Practice Management, November/December 2004.
DesRoches, Campbell, et al. "Electronic Health Records in Ambulatory Care-A National Survey of Physicians." New England Journal of Medicine 359, no. 1, (June 18, 2008): 50-60.
Melczer, Andrew H., et al. "Background on Electronic Health Records for Small Practices." White paper. Indiana State Medical Society. 2005.
Miller, Robert H., et al. "The Value of Electronic Health Records in Solo or Small Group Practices." Health Affairs 24, no. 5 (2005): 1127-37.
Searching for an EHR can be very time-consuming. An individual physician practice may need to spend many weeks, even months, becoming familiar with the systems that are available and analyzing the group practice's needs and goals. HIM professionals are well suited to assist physician practices in this process.
Dinh, Angela K..
"Physician Practice EHR Resources"
Journal of AHIMA