Thursday, August 29, 2013

EHR Systems Are Being Emphasized by Some Lawmakers

EHR systems are problematic for many medical practices. But some experts believe that EHR systems can be beneficial. It is believed that when implemented correctly, the systems can help reduce health care costs and improve health care quality. Because the systems have the potential to reduce costs and improve quality, EHR systems are drawing attention from many quarters, including the U.S. government.

Indeed, over 30 EHR related bills have been introduced by the U.S. Congress since January of 2013. And two congressional representatives, Diane Black (R-Tenn) and Mike Honda (I-California), have asked the CMS administrator, Maryland Tavenner, and the National Coordinator for Health IT, Farzad Mostashari, to allow hospitals to give EHR technology to physicians.

It is felt that donating the technology to physicians will "boost health IT interoperability" and help physicians with the costs of the technology. Hospitals need permission for the donation to avoid violation of laws that prohibit payments that encourage referrals and laws that ban kickbacks.

Lawmakers' efforts to increase EHR system usage may not be viewed favorably by everyone since many don't like government involvement. On the other hand, a push by powerful forces may be necessary, since a number of physicians, who are unhappy with their EHRs, could abandon the technology. Further, some physicians may be reluctant to implement EHR systems because of associated problems.

In fact, physicians are dropping out of the incentive programs the U.S. government established to entice physicians to adopt EHRs. And those who plan to stay with EHR technology want to replace their existing EHR systems.

Still, in a recent blog post, we indicated that EHR systems could benefit bariatric physician practices because as a specialty, these practices are less complex than, say, a primary care medical practice. Therefore, bariatric specialties can make maximum use of the features EHR systems offer. Therefore, the push by lawmakers can be viewed as a positive by those specializing in obesity medicine.

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