As required under the HITECH Act, the Department of Health & Human Services — via the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) — has filed its annual report to Congress on the adoption of health information technology.
Among the highlights, ONC told lawmakers that by the end of 2012, nearly three-quarters of office-based physicians (72 percent) had adopted an EHR system. ONC said physician adoption rates have reached at least 50 percent for 12 of the 15 Meaningful Use requirements for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs Stage 1 core objectives. The agency also noted that more than half of the nation’s eligible professionals had received payments through the EHR Incentive Programs through the end of April 2013.
At the same time, ONC explained that it uses an online customer relationship management (CRM) tool implemented within the national network of Regional Extension Centers (RECs) to monitor potential barriers to EHR adoption. RECs have collected CRM data from more than 143,000 providers to track key milestones and other information related to EHR adoption and meaningful use progress.
“This has allowed ONC to take REC feedback about barriers beyond the realm of anecdotal evidence and into concrete lessons learned from the field than can then be used to focus ONC’s policy and program efforts,” the report to Congress stated.
As of December 2012, the top five challenges identified by providers through the CRM tool were:
- Provider engagement
- Meaningful Use measures
- Administrative practices issues
- Vendor selection
- Practice workflow adoption
As the Meaningful Use program moves forward, disengaged physicians may begin to overcome that uppermost challenge through a shift in perspective, according to a noteworthy source — none other than ONC chief Farzad Mostashari, MD. In late June, Healthcare IT News reporter Diana Manos asked Mostashari what he would say to a physician who has decided it’s not worth the trouble to pursue Meaningful Use. His response: “[You] shouldn’t look at this as a program that’s in isolation to the other things that are happening in healthcare, which are an increasing focus on population health management, care coordination and patient engagement. I would say, don’t think, “Do I do this program to get the check or not?” Think, “Is this in line with patient-centered care and is it where I want to be?”
What are your thoughts? Does ONC have the pulse of the practitioner when it comes to getting engaged with EHR technology?
Frank Irving is editor of PhysBizTech, an online publication covering business and technology issues at small physician practices.