Recently nine Health IT experts provided opinions on what the setbacks and progress regarding Health and IT, specifically EHR system installation, appeared to be during 2011 and presented some 2012 challenges.
While Medicare and Medicaid each Newsrooms.ca distributed almost $1 billion in incentive payments and the percentage of physicians adopting a system rose to 34% in 2011 from 17% in 2008, there are still many physicians on the sidelines. Some of the reasons cited for this are:
The large up-front costs (incentives are not paid out until the system is up and running)
EHR systems can be inflexible and difficult to implement
Many physicians are taking a wait and see approach to widespread adoption of meaningful use criteria
There has been an impressive increase in the number of providers using EHRs to e-prescribe. In fact, the number went from 52,947 in 2008 to 297,036 in 2011. This has had the effect of demonstrating how well formulated health delivery systems can improve the healthcare delivery process for both doctors and patients.
Vendors providing EHR systems have, in some cases, been a little slow to develop and/or upgrade their products to meet certification criteria and the meaningful use standards.
The meaningful use consumer-centric criteria are beginning to deliver real benefits to patients. This is primarily because of the openness and access to information by doctors and patients.
One of the challenges being faced by physicians in the health IT arena in 2012 is embracing the broadening exchange of digital health information. Providers have to see this information exchange as an opportunity to coordinate care among all healthcare providers and hope it can become a routine practice.
While meaningful use has a lot of advantages, there are still practices who struggle to meet the criteria. For example, a radiologist does not usually record a list of their patient’s medication. This is a required meaningful use item so radiologists and others may have to change their procedures.
Another challenge is the lack of technological standards for meaningful use. Too many systems do not have the capability to communicate with each other. In addition, there has to be standards for governance on patient privacy and the prudent sharing of information.
There are industry health IT experts and stakeholders (like The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT) working on improving, aligning and providing governance for these standards.