News about Healthcare IT Solutions & Services Industry
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has taken another step to help the electronic health record industry improve pediatric EHRs, issuing a guide to improve EHR usability when treating pediatric patients.
According to the 94,700-member American Academy of Family Physicians, while it "supports the goals" behind the proposed regulations, it believes that the regulations-as proposed-impose hurdles that will challenge small- and mid-sized practices' ability to qualify for the ARRA's health IT subsidies.
A chief concern is that collecting and reporting performance data could become an administrative burden, said Steven Waldren, director of the AAFP's Center for Health IT. He said that his recommendation for the final rules would be to "focus on meaningful use and not reporting on the meaningful use."
Physicians who meet the requirements could receive $44,000 to help pay for their purchase of an electronic health record system.
"They should not implement health IT to get the $44,000," Waldren said, they should do it to improve quality and efficiency and to move toward transforming their practices into a patient-centered medical home. "And, if you do that, you'll get $44,000. I don't think there's anything in there that physicians shouldn't be doing or striving for."
Waldren added that the AAFP is specifically encouraged by the proposed regulations' focus on care coordination, quality and patient-centered care, and he also said the AAFP supports the rules' promotion of using electronic prescribing; clinical decision support; analysis and reporting of evidence-based measures of quality and performance; and the sharing of health information and educational resources with patients.
A government survey indicates there was an 18.7% increase in the use of electronic health record software in physician offices to 41.5% in 2008 from 34% in 2007, but preliminary results for 2009 show only a slight increase up to 43.9%.
Doctors were asked, “Does this practice use electronic medical records or electronic health records (not including billing records)?” with options for answering “all electronic,” “part paper and part electronic,” “no” or “don't know.”
A “basic” system was defined as including patient demographic information, “patient problem lists,” clinical notes, orders for prescriptions and applications for viewing laboratory and imaging results.
A “fully functional' system, also included functions for medical histories and follow-ups, test ordering, electronic prescribing, drug interaction alerts, flagging “out of range” test levels, and reminders for guideline-based interventions.
In a blog published on 30th November, David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P. - National Coordinator for Health Information Technology writes that he believes that "policy should be based on the best available information, carefully analyzed and considered. However, recent studies raising questions about the benefits of EHRs are informative, but limited in their applicability to our HIT program. To the extent that they accurately capture past experience with EHRs, these studies illustrate something that the Congress and the President understand and have allowed for: namely, that having an EHR alone is not sufficient. Doctors and hospitals have to use this technology effectively, have to employ its extraordinary power to improve clinical decisions, in order to achieve its potential benefits. The federal government's new programs of incentives and penalties are totally focused on encouraging the meaningful use of EHRs. The resources set aside by the Congress to encourage the adoption of EHRs will go only to physicians, hospitals, and other providers who meet carefully designed new requirements for the use of EHRs that will translate into health improvements and cost reductions for the American people. And the plan passed by Congress includes new resources and support that will help make it possible for providers and hospitals to meet these requirements. We have already announced the availability of grants that will help providers adopt and use EHRs, and we will be making additional announcements in the weeks and months ahead."
In a survey conducted by California based Epocrates Inc, the results of which were published by AAFP, 9 out of 10 medical students declare that an electronic health record, or EHR, system will be a key part of their future medical practices. That finding puts students squarely in the same camp as many family physicians, who already have a fully implemented EHR system in their practice or are in the process of implementing one.
Critical results from medical imaging tests such as MRIs and X-rays, even when sent by electronic e-mail alerts to doctors, may “fall through the cracks” without prompt attention and follow-up, a review of U.S. veterans’ medical records found.