Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Incentives for meaningful use of EHRs

The government is providing incentives for physicians to get them to "meaningfully use" electronic health records or EHRs. So many physicians are still using paper records that it's hard to imagine that the overwhelming majority will rapidly adopt an EHR system and use it in a "meaningful" way.

After all, what type of computer skills do you need to be a "meaningful" user? What if you're still using paper and voice dictations and relying on someone else to enter all the information into a computer? What if you're very slow at typing? What if you quickly get frustrated whenever you try to use a computer? What if you're just not a computer user?

I'm sure there's a generation of physicians who are preparing for retirement over the next few years. If they're still using paper records, they probably won't invest thousands of dollars to implement an EHR. What about those physicians who are getting burned out of clinical medicine? Maybe they're getting more motivated to leave the world of clinical medicine to pursue other career options (especially non-clinical jobs).

If you're currently using a CCHIT certified EHR, then you're very fortunate because you probably won't need to make many (or any) changes to your clinical workflow to benefit from these new government incentives. If you're not currently using an EHR, then I hope you're investing time and resources to make the right decision about an EHR so that you don't end up making a critical mistake for your practice.

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