ACPHOSPITALIST — Carrots and Sticks, John Schumann, M.D.

Excerpt Feb 1, 2011 — ACPHospitalist, John Schumann, M.D.

“Depending on your viewpoint (and the pertinent issue), government regulation either snarls the wheels of commerce and chokes American competitiveness OR enables us to live productive, happy, equitable and safe lives. [As Oprah says, “Live your best life …”]

Medicine is full of regulations. For the most part, this is good. Certification and licensure of doctors means that there’s an explicit level of vetting and trust that a patient can bring to any encounter. Agencies like the FDA test and certify the safety of medications and devices for the public’s good. Controversy abounds in its decisions, but for the most part the agency is looking out for us.

Which brings me to medical records. For hundreds of years, medical records were inscribed on paper, and locked away inside health care institutions and doctors’ offices. With the advent of computers, it made sense to keep these records electronically. For one thing, this saves paper and space. And now your doctor’s crappy handwriting is less of an issue — for you, the insurance company, or the pharmacist…..

The feds in their role as regulators-in-chief and encouragers of best practices passed something called the HITECH Act, as part of the 2009 stimulus package (“ARRA”). The idea is simple: entice medical practices into going electronic by subsidizing the cost. Practices that “meaningfully use” electronic records can get up to $44,000 in payments. Sounds like a good deal, right?

Anything is certainly better than nothing…”

To read the full posting, click here.

This post is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the American College of Physicians (ACP). ACP does not endorse a specific EHR brand or product and ACP makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided herein.

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