Things Are Going To Change Again In Healthcare IT

Things are going to change again in Healthcare IT by Sheryl Cherico, CEO of Tier3MD

September 4, 2014

I have been working in the healthcare field in some capacity or another for at least 35 years.  I have been in the Healthcare IT world for 25 of those 35 years.  Have I seen it all?  No, but I have seen quite a bit.

Back when I was first starting out in the healthcare IT field, there was no internet, no privacy laws and certainly no security when it came to patient health information.  The internet was just starting out, so really, protecting patient health records was never really an issue that stuck out in the forefront.

Flash forward to 1996.  HIPAA.  We all knew it was there, but did we really know what it was?  If you were in the healthcare field on the clinical side, you were more understanding of what HIPAA was, and what it was trying to do.  Shall we move on to 2003?  That’s where we noticed the huge change in ePHI, but it only affected a small amount of providers.  The trailblazers.  The ones that had the money and the confidence to go to some sort of electronic record.  Now keep in mind, it was not a “complete” electronic record.  May even have been an excel spreadsheet with patient blood pressure levels on it.

Let me zip over to 2009.  Ok, the ARRA is in the forefront.  Now physicians are monetarily incentivized to take all their paper charts and convert them to electronic.  AND…share them.   Um…not so fast.  We are a long way from that.  We have many different systems who have no interest in talking to other systems.  I guess we could call it playing nice in the sand box.  I don’t see this happening very much, especially with the stiff competition that is out there today.

We have physicians that refuse to change, whether they cannot afford it, or are retiring, or just don’t want to be told what to do by the government.  Reluctantly, they oblige…they purchase an electronic medical record system…and some still keep the paper chart!  Some purchase one, and never implement it.  Some purchase it, and use it religiously.  I’ve seen all types.

So…here we are in 2014.  Per my personal research, around 75% of physicians are now working with some sort of electronic medical record system.  They won’t admit it…but I think they like it now that they are used to it. (Just my opinion).  I remember working with Physicians who hated email, but a few years after that would call me in the middle of the night if their email was down!

So what is the next change?  My prediction is that in the next 3 years, practices will be changing EMR’s.  Now that they are over the “shock” of moving from paper to an electronic record, they are going to want something more.  A good example would be starting out with Atari’s Pong game, and getting the latest Xbox game.  Makes perfect sense doesn’t it?  The question is, how will this get done?  How will they switch all that discreet data, images and diagraming into a new EMR system?  Are the EMR vendors putting their R&D money into making their system work to accept data from the 500 other systems, or are they putting their R&D money into making the system more like the 2014 Xbox game?  What does the practice do?  Run 2 systems?  Do a demographic dump?  Will patient data be lost?  Will there be a blip in the patients chart?  If I am an EMR vendor, I would focus on certifying my product and making enhancements so that no one would want to switch to a new one.  At what cost would that be, and who absorbs that cost?  Like anything else, prices come down, not go up.  Most EMR’s are now hosted, which has dropped the price dramatically.

With all of this said…I see changes coming!    I love healthcare technology!


Sheryl J. Cherico founded Tier3MD in October 2005, and is now one of the leading consultants in healthcare IT.