The EHR: Love it, hate it, here to stay

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By Anne Polta, West Central Tribune, Monday April 15, 2013 — WILLMAR —In a world where information technology is inextricably entwined in how we live (when was the last time you spent more than 24 hours without online access?), it’s often baffling to see how slowly health care has embraced all things digital.

To be sure, most hospitals and medical groups are making progress. A majority of physicians now have the ability to e-prescribe, and it would be hard to find a health care organization that doesn’t use or store at least some patient information electronically. On the whole, however, there’s a long road ahead for many organizations to reach the nirvana of a fully integrated electronic health record that incorporates both clinical and billing information, allows information to be exchanged between providers and organizations, and makes the fullest use of technology to enhance care.

It prompts the question: Why?

Because adoption of an electronic health record system is neither simple, straightforward nor cheap, that’s why. It demands a major commitment from health care organizations – a commitment, moreover, that tends to be mostly invisible to patients and the public and may not offer an immediate payback.

The challenges of EHR implementation emerged in the details I learned while talking to staff at Rice Memorial Hospital here in Willmar about the hospital’s conversion to Epic last year. Read the full story at

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