Saturday, October 11, 2008

YES WE CAN: Under Obama, Bright Future for Health Care, EMR

We all knew President-Elect Barack Obama looked great in his skivvies, but some were skeptical about his proposed health care plan. To what extent, we still wonder, will Obama advocate for better health technology? How much money will he allocate toward facilitating widespread adoption of EMR systems?

On Thursday afternoon the Harbinger of Hope proposed a preliminary outline for a $100 billion package for healthcare, and at the top of this agenda is a plan to bestow new incentives onto practices that use electronic medical records. It seems he has great faith in the future success, and necessity, of EMR.  Says Obama:
To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its cost, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that, within five years, all of America's medical records are computerized. This will cut waste, eliminate red tape and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests.
Consistent with IO Practiceware's outlook, Obama envisions a future of highly interconnected practices and medical treatment centers, benefitting patients, doctors, and medical staff with a new grade of efficiency and cost-effectiveness; to the Obama administration, the adoption of EMR should, and will, reflect the new era of technological savvy within the communal, and global, network of health care. As Chris Frates from writes in "Health care could nab $100B payday":
The streamlining effort is aimed at improving quality and saving money and could include digitizing patients’ medical records and pushing doctors to use e-prescribing.

Some of those funds would be funneled as incentive payments directly to doctors and hospitals that participate in Medicare, which provides health care to the nation’s seniors. The idea is similar to the payments used to coax doctors to make the upgrade from prescription pads to e-prescribing. 

A critical getting medical practitioners access to the Web, which would reduce paperwork, allow them to communicate more efficiently with each other, and track the care and history of patients even as they change doctors. 

Officials would also like to fund a coordinator who would help set national health IT standards to govern the emerging system. Uniform standards are key to creating a system under which a doctor in New York can access the medical records of a tourist from Oklahoma.
Whoa! A President-Elect who champions EMR! Who would have thought Barack Obama could electrify audiences -- and medical records?! (Bad joke.) Who knew he could deliver so much change -- to your pocket! (Worse joke.)

In all seriousness, what does this potential "$100B payday" mean for you and your practice? Our friends over at the Health Care blog have expressed concerns in the past over the efficacy -- or more precisely, practicality -- of Obama's plan. Like many persons in the medical community, their qualms manifest a strong mistrust of paperless practices, with a particularly cynical outlook on electronic medical records in general.

In the midst of this skepticism, the Team at IO maintains: "Yes We Can." But what about you? What concerns do you have about widespread use of EMR?

Please submit comments below, and check out our upcoming post on EMR adoption ("Crossing Ts and Dotting Eyes: EMR, Point by Point").

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