Groups emerge to help ease the pain of EMR selection

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Medical societies, industry groups, consultants and others are rallying together to help guide physicians select the most appropriate electronic medical record (EMR) system for their practice, reports the American Medical Association (AMA).

Formed in July by 14 medical societies, the Physicians' Electronic Health Record Coalition (PEHRC) - which includes the AMA, American College of Physicians and American Academy of Family Physicians - helps physicians choose and implement EMRs. "Physicians, especially those in small-and medium-sized practices, do not have the resources to choose from hundreds of EMR vendors," said Peter Basch, MD, an internist and co-chair of PEHRC.
 
Three nonprofit industry groups - the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the American Health Information Management Association and the National Alliance for Health Information Technology - also have an EMR program underway. The entities are sponsoring an effort to develop voluntary certification standards to make it easier for physicians to compare and evaluate different EMR systems.

HIMSS also offers an online tool called Ambulatory EHR Selector that allows physicians to screen out EMRs. Physicians select the features they want in an EMR, and the tool matches them with a product, said Dr. Mark Leavitt, medical director and director of ambulatory care at HIMSS. Physicians also can use the tool to compare products. The service costs $149 per year for physicians and $499 per year for vendors to be listed in the database. There currently are 29 vendors in the database, the AMA said.