Consistently earning top marks in KLAS’ small physician practice EMR category, Greenway Medical Technologies seems to prove the point that a limited focus equals increased quality. But will the Siren’s call to tackle larger quarry be succumbed to? And would such an expansion of focus lead to diminished results? To learn more about this quiet but capable vendor, HCI Editor-in-Chief recently caught up with President Tee Green to find out how HITECH is effecting small practice EMR providers.
GUERRA: I read that you’re doing a Webinar series about the Regional Extension Centers. Is that series targeted towards the people who will be running these centers or the physicians that may need the services they offer?
GREEN: More for the Regional Extension Center applicants regarding the processes they are going through and the information they need to be successful at that. Greenway has an interest in being part of any of the regional extension centers that are going to pick three or four vendors to work with, so we want to be seen by them as an educational source that says, “We have tools and resources that might make your applications more successful.”
GUERRA: I recently interviewed the leaders of Allscripts and NextGen. Everyone on the ambulatory side seems to understand that they’d better keep a close eye and get very friendly with these Regional Extension Centers because they are going to be recommending a lot of EHRs.
GREEN: Right, and you know it’s a mathematical equation that were all trying to solve. If we are truly going to succeed at this endeavor of electronifying the healthcare industry, we need a lot of feet on the street to help implement and train users. If we don’t have these extensions, mathematically, we won’t get there in 10 years.
GUERRA: But just because we create the extension centers doesn’t mean that the people exist to fill them. I mean, there’s supposed to be 50,000 fewer HIT professionals than are needed.
GREEN: You’re absolutely correct, and that’s why we have to go back into the universities. If we don’t focus on educating a couple hundred thousand new people into the healthcare workforce, if we don’t focus on universities like Northern Kentucky University and places like that, where they can educate these workforces, you’re right, there’s not going to be the human capital that we need to pull this off.
GUERRA: I’ve written a few edit memos and blog postings that are pretty critical of this legislation, especially the timelines involved. Just from our conversation here, it’s clear the cart has been put before the horse. We should have had these educational programs in place to create the workforce, because the timelines now don’t allow for it to be created in time.
GREEN: Right, right. It’s an audacious goal, but I think those are good. It’s good to have the loftiness of it because it forces the country to get ready and say, “Okay, we’ve got to make sure the technology is there, we have to make sure the service platform is there, and we have to make sure the human capital is there,” and there’s no reason to build one and wait on the other because there’s so much learning you can do simultaneously. I think that’s what we’re doing. So in some respects, I think it’s really positive, in others, I’d agree with you.
GUERRA: Do you think there’s a sentiment among those setting policy that we’ve got to break a few eggs to bake this cake?
GREEN: Well, yes. I mean, look at some of the stuff that’s been proposed already. Obviously, that’s, “Let’s throw some stuff against the wall and see what sticks and move on from there,” but we have to force change. I think that’s the biggest thing — we can’t wait for natural evolution to take place. We have to have stimulated evolution.
And I think that’s what we’re trying to accomplish, this stimulated evolution. If not, we still would electronify, we would be interoperable, we would have very advanced disease management capabilities, all of this would happen naturally, but it might take 20 years. I think we, as a country, are saying we’re better than that. We may have to pour some fuel into this evolutionary process to speed it up. At least that’s the way I view it, right or wrong.