Itís Time to Get Up-to-Speed the EMR

Edition: October 2005 - Vol 13 Number 10
Article#: 2229
Author: Repertoire

If you look back at the influence that CLIA had on the Physician Office Laboratory (POL) market, I think we would all agree that it was significant. It affected the sales of new instruments and tests, as well as testing already in existence. Even with lots of advanced warning, it slowed a growing market. In retrospect, thatís too bad, because if manufacturers, distributors, and most importantly, distributor sales reps were better prepared and educated on the issue, the effect CLIA had on the market would likely have been less severe.

Of course there were distributors that did a wonderful job of educating themselves; as a result, their customers actually used CLIA to grow their businesses. PSS was one of them. They deserve a lot of credit for recognizing that a sizeable piece of their overall business was tied up in POL, and if they were going to preserve it, they needed to be the experts. PSS accomplished that, and in the process, became a resource in POL-related issues for their customers, as well as for the manufacturers that wanted to sell into the POL market. Not only did they do a good job of preserving business, they created additional sales opportunities.

Today, Electronic Medical Records (EMR) present the same opportunity. Differences exist, but the reality is weíre once again dealing with an issue that demands that we develop the expertise needed to help our customers. Currently, most customers donít understand EMR. Yet a recent survey indicated that 80 percent of physicians plan on purchasing an EMR system in the future. And that makes sense. The issue is being driven at the highest levels for all of the right reasons: EMR systems increase the quality of care, lead to a reduction in medical errors and ultimately bring down the cost of care.

As the market for EMR heats up, it will certainly affect what distributors sell. We are already seeing equipment purchasing decisions based upon future EMR purchasing plans. Weíre also seeing EMR vendors getting into the equipment sales business, which means they are directly in our pockets. Itís been said that when history repeats itself, the price often goes up. If we donít educate ourselves as an industry on EMR, market share is in play. And in this market, with the Internet providing pricing transparency, customers are paying close attention to the value their distributors deliver.

Itís time we get fully educated on EMR. Itís an opportunity to step up and deliver expertise to customers, which will create additional sales and further build relationships. Repertoire will do its best to help by featuring more stories on the subject. We start in this issue with the article, ďNo Free Lunch,Ē on page 28 which explains the EMR software the government is ďgiving awayĒ to healthcare practitioners. We will follow with articles in November and next January that should help begin to bring clarity to the issues surrounding EMR. And as always, if there are important EMR-related things we miss that deserve coverage, please let us know!