Oncology EMRs: Buyer Beware, an Interview with Marty Neltner

July 12, 2010

The Obama administration is pushing for universal EMR adoption. Sounds like a good idea. But are EMRs ready for prime time?

Clinicians often cite enhanced quality care, patient safety, and increased efficiencies as rationale for implementing electronic medical records (EMRs) in the community oncology setting. Those are strong reasons for interest in medical software. However, in a climate where reimbursements are falling and physician reimbursements are flat, the cost and difficulty of an EMR can increasingly seem to be a barrier. Oncologists and business executives are particularly aware of the ongoing decreases in Medicare reimbursements and significant coding changes in years since the passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA).

The Obama administration is pushing for an interoperable health information system; a timetable of incentives; the pressure is on and the move toward electronic oncology offices is ineluctable.  So, will EMRs help oncologists enhance quality of care by facilitating better data aggregation and sharing and increase revenue by enhancing office management efficiencies?

According to nationally recognized healthcare specialist, Marty Neltner, conceptually EMRs are a good thing, but the current designs do not deliver the necessary functions for today’s oncologist.

-Interviewed by Ron Piana

Up next: A care-giver's perspective on the EMR conundrum.