Physicians have EMR wish list for health information technology czar

LETTER — Posted Aug. 9, 2004

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Regarding "Health IT chief: Public-private partnership needed for EMRs" (Article, July 26):

The physicians who visit the online forum that I administer welcome the appointment of a national coordinator of information technology. We hope, being a fellow physician, he will have our concerns central to any major plans he has.

A lot of physicians have expressed concern about having to carry the financial burden of electronic medical record selection and implementation, especially so with solo and small practices. Physicians are burdened enough as it is with HIPAA, and other regulatory pressures combined with reduced reimbursements and raising liability premiums. The last thing we would want is being forced to implement a technology, which, although proven, has so much variation, with no widely used standards to date.

Maybe the coordinator could help work with the government on physicians' behalf to achieve some progress in areas outlined below:

Help establish common standards for data exchange along the lines of the Continuity of Care Record and get the standards adopted by all EMR developers.

Help create minimum standards for EMR products, as well as establish guarantees about the products.

The government could help absorb the initial large cost of purchasing EMR products that meet government standards, which could be offset by taxation.

Help establish a secure e-mail network that can interconnect hospitals and physician offices and that is HIPAA-compliant. This e-mail module also should be part of the core standard that an EMR must have.

Involve physicians in the decision-making processes along the way.

My comments include sentiments expressed by fellow physician members of our discussion forum.

Frederick Njuki, MD, Tyler, Texas

Editor's note: Dr. Njuki is the founder and administrator of an online discussion forum for physicians (link).

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/08/09/edlt0809.htm.

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