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EMRs Real Politics.

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE


Dr. Jerome Groopman and Dr.Pamela
Hartzmen uncovered the real politics of EMRs.
 They are both on the staff of Beth
Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and on the faculty of Harvard Medical

 Dr. Groopman wrote a best seller “How
Doctors Think.”

In a Wall Street
Journal article they wrote,

 The electronic medical record (EMR) is touted
as the key to containing costs, reducing errors, improving quality, and
simplifying administration: an “elegant exercise in wishful thinking

Dr. Groopman and Pamela Hartzman debunk the 2005 RAND study. The
RAND EMR study of 2005 led to President Obama’s belief that EMRs will save $81
billion dollars a year for the healthcare system.

Groopman and Hartzman show that there is little evidence to
support the president’s belief.

The RAND analysts claim that more than $350
billion would be saved on inpatient care and nearly $150 billion on outpatient
care over a 15-year period of time.

Unfortunately, data from three other studies, a cardiology
group, a Harvard group and Canadian group showed there is no savings difference
between paper records and electronic records.

Dr. Groopman claims the RAND study is self-serving to EMR software
companies that sponsored the study.


Healthcare Solutions
, the Cerner Corporation and Epic Systems of Verona, Wis. are the major EMR software companies.

 In February 2009, after years of behind-the-scenes lobbying by
Allscripts and others, legislation to promote the use of electronic records was
signed into law as part of President Obama’s economic stimulus bill.

“But today, as doctors and hospitals struggle to make new records
systems work, the clear winners are big companies like Allscripts that lobbied
for that legislation and pushed aside smaller competitors.”

At Allscripts Healthcare
solutions, annual sales have more than doubled from $548 million in 2009 to an
estimated $1.44 billion last year.

At the Cerner Corporation of Kansas City, Mo., sales rose 60 percent during that

“Current and former industry executives say that
big digital records companies like Cerner, Allscripts and Epic Systems of
Verona, Wis., have reaped enormous rewards because of the legislation they
pushed for.”

Unfortunately, many of the
EMR systems bought by large hospital systems and physician practices are not
fully functional. They do not fit the administration’s criteria of meaningful-use
EMRs. These EMRs are requiring additional hospital systems and physicians;
practices outlays of cash to make them fully functional.

City-based Pain Clinic of Northwest FL filed a purported class action lawsuit
on Dec. 20, 2012 against Chicago-based Allscripts (NASDAQ: MDRX).

“The purported class action
lawsuit says that about 5,000 small group physicians were sold an EMR called
MyWay from 2009 until late last year, when the company stopped supporting the

“The company was also hit with
a federal shareholder class action securities fraud lawsuit in the Northern
Illinois District last year over allegations that it misled investors about the
performance of its EHR programs.”

 The MyWay EMR cost about $40,000
per physician. ThePain Clinic of Northwest Florida claims it was misled by
Allscripts Healthcare Solution.  The
Clinic stated that MyWay has “shortcoming
and inherent defects,”  

complaint says Allscripts was unable to obtain “meaningful use” bonus status
for MyWay because of the problems with the program. The lawsuit claims that

 “Allscripts has been unjustly enriched by
retaining the money paid by MyWay purchasers and users without delivering an
EHR software product that performs as it was intended to work,”

 These costs are always
passed on to the consumer
. Drs. Groopman and Hartzman  go on to say,

president and his health-care team have yet to address these difficult and
pressing issues.

 Our culture adores technology, so it is not
surprising that the electronic medical record has been touted as the first
important step in curing the ills of our health-care system.

this notion is an overly simplistic and unsubstantiated part of the solution.

It is important to note Drs. Groopman and Hartzman’s total
and refreshing frankness.

“We both voted
for President Obam
a, in part because of his pragmatic approach to problems,
belief in empirical data, and openness to changing his mind when those data
contradict his initial approach to a problem”.

We need the
president to apply
scientific rigor to fix our
health-care system rather than rely on elegant exercises in wishful thinking.”

Please note that Drs. Groopman and Hartzman said it not

a new study The RAND Corp has backed off on its 2005 study earlier this year
and withdrew its estimate of saving to the healthcare system of $81 billion
dollars annually.

In the
RAND Corp’s view, the disappointing performance of health IT to date can be
largely attributed to several factors:


  1.  “Sluggish
    adoption of health IT systems
  2.   Coupled
    with the choice of systems that are neither interoperable nor easy to use;
  3.   The
    failure of health care providers and institutions to reengineer care processes
    to reap the full benefits of health IT.
  4.  We
    believe that the original promise of health IT can be met if the systems are
    redesigned to address these flaws by creating more-standardized systems that
    are easier to use,
  5.  EMR are
    truly interoperable,
  6.  Afford patients more access to and control
    over their health data.
  7.  Providers must do their part by reengineering
    care processes to take full advantage of efficiencies offered by health IT, in
    the context of redesigned payment models that favor value over volume.”


It should not be a blame game.

General Electric sponsored this new RAND study.  It is important to note that GE is a major
Allscripts competitor.

There is true value in the EMRs to patient care. However the
focus of the marketing and development is on the wrong customer.

The RAND still does not get it. Perhaps
it does not want to get it.

EMRs should be for the benefit of physicians and their
patients. It must be at a price physicians can afford to pay. It should not be
for the benefit of the government, the healthcare insurance industry and
hospital systems.

It should be a tool to
continually educate physicians and patients. It should not be a tool used by
secondary stakeholders to penalize physicians and patients.

Patients and physicians control My Ideal Electronic Medical
Record. It should be seriously considered to achieve the maximum benefit of EMRs’

I believe it would be of value to interested readers to go
to this link.

 Those articles will
not only describe the problems with EMRs, problems which I have predicted and are
now recognized. These articles will also outline real  solutions to having universal adoption of

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone

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