Physicians Support EHRs, but Find Implementation Daunting
While most physicians support the switch from paper to electronic health records, many say the timeline to make the transition is happening too fast and are calling for changes, Politico reports.
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
Under the $30 billion program, physicians who meet certain criteria for health IT implementation can earn up to $44,000 annually in incentive payments.
Details of Concerns
Despite providers' support of the program's goal, many say that EHR systems are difficult to use and that savings and care quality improvements have not yet been widely evident, according to Politico.
HHS Director of Innovation Greg Downing said, "Government payment incentives forced people into early adoption of technology that in most of our views is not optimal for what people want to do with it."
Specifically, providers say that many EHR products:
- Are not easy to use;
- Are not integrated with other computer systems;
- Require lengthy data entries;
- Have severe design flaws; and
- Require months of training to operate.
Call for Changes
American Medical Association President-Elect Steven Stack said he supports EHRs, but commercial EHR systems are "[i]nfuriating and cumbersome" and slow physicians down while distracting them from patient care.
Despite the challenges related to implementing EHRs, recent survey show that nearly all physicians have said they are willing to make the transition.
To ease the transition, AMA is requesting that the Obama administration waive meaningful use requirements for older doctors, as well as rural or small practice physicians. Stack said that EHR implementation costs and training requirements are driving older doctors out of practice.
According to Politico, health IT specialists say the only way to handle EHR implementation problems is to work through them.
National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo has said she recognizes that growing pains are part of health IT implementation, adding that there are still "questions about whether it's improving health care. That's an important next chapter" (Allen, Politico, 6/15).
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