Electronic Health Records – A Better Way?

Five years ago my associate and I invested sixty thousand dollars to purchase and set up an electronic health record system and eliminate extensive paper use. We researched all available systems and decided upon MediNotes because it was a large company with an excellent record of service and their system met all the national requirements for certification. We worked through our local computer vendor’s family run business because they had supplied and serviced our electronic billing system well for years.  Their fees included an annual software maintenance fee and an annual hardware maintenance fee which, combined, cost several thousand dollars per year.

We were overjoyed when Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 which said that we would be reimbursed up to $44,000 per doctor over 5 years for our investment and the meaningful use of the system. Shortly after learning the details of the law, MediNotes sold out to Eclypsis – a gigantic computer company.  We were told that Eclypsis had developed an updated MediNotes product called Peak Practice that met the new meaningful use criteria of the law.  The Peak Practice system implemented recommendations from MediNotes users to improve upon the software and user experience.

We were informed we could convert our system, or “migrate” to the new system, by paying an additional $7500 in fees for training, software and integration of our system with our websites. Due to a backlog of orders to “migrate”, we planned on contracting in the fall of 2010 to convert in the spring of 2011.  Once our decision was made, we requested the contract and other documents from our local vendor.  However, they did not appear.  We were then informed that Eclypsis sold out to Allscripts. Allscripts is a large health care services provider that has a large hospital computer health record business as well as a small practice electronic health record package branded “My Way” which my vendor has yet to see.

I am all in favor of capitalism. I am also in favor of investors getting back their money with a profit. I am not in favor of absolutely no federal oversight of the medical record computer industry.  The vendors have created a feeding frenzy for physicians seeing $44,000 as the carrot at the end of the stick. The vendors won’t wait for the federal payments for meaningful use to collect payment for their systems. They want their money up front. Meanwhile, computer companies continue to sell out to larger predatory companies leaving physicians saddled with a computer system that is obsolete and has no future technical support.

There has to be a better way.