Five Question Friday: Interview with an EHR consultation service

Beginning this year, EHR Bloggers will be featuring a series of interviews with various practitioners, consultants and others with experience and insight into EHR adoption. We call this feature Five Question Friday (though there may be more than five questions).

Our first interview is with Erica Drazen, who works with CSC, a Virginia-based consultancy service that helps physicians choose their EHR.

As a preface, perhaps you could tell us a little about yourself, and what kinds of services you offer to physicians.
CSC offers EHR system selection and implementation services to both hospitals and their affiliated physician practices as well as to large group practices. I run the emerging practices (applied research) group; our goal is to look ahead 18-36 months so that we can prepare our clients for the future. (As you can imagine, with HITECH and health reform—it has been a busy year for us.)

What are you hearing from doctors and medical groups about EHR adoption?
Some, who were already considering an EHR purchase are moving ahead more aggressively with planning and selection, others are still on the fence.

How has the health IT industry changed over the past 1-2 years?
The industry has consolidated somewhat, and has been more focused—first on certification, and mow on meaningful use. We have also seen the reappearance of larger, multi-industry firms into healthcare. (This seems to go in cycles—companies enter the industry because of the large $$ and unmet needs but then discover meeting those needs is harder than it looks!)

What type of EHR system do you most often recommend? Why?
There is no one solution that is “best” for everyone. Primary care and specialists have different needs, and small and large practices vary widely in the resources they have to operate and maintain EHRs. Integration is one key criterian. For owned practices, we recommend looking first to see if the hospital’s EHR vendor has a good, integrated solution. We also recommend that practices buy an integrated EHR and practice management solution. Ideally the EHR documentation should drive billing and quality reporting. Another criterian is that system is currently certified. In addition, usability is key and that really can only be evaluated by the users themselves.

What do you see as the future solution for EHR adoption? For large medical groups? For small practices? For hospitals and hospital-linked practices?
As mentioned above, we think that hospitals and hospital-liked practices will be moving toward a common solution. Small independent practices that choose to adopt an EMR will most likely go with a hosted solution and large practices will probably continue to purchase, tailor, and operate their own EHR.

Any horror stories you’ve encountered?
Not personally, although there are lots out there

Any surprises?
Once physicians adopt an EHR even the most vocal original naysayers would never practice without one.

How is HITECH impacting your business?
Unfortunately although HITECH was intended as a stimulus, in fact it had the opposite effect this year. Hospitals and physician practices did not want to move forward until the rules were clear. That means the next year will be very busy!