Accenture physician: National goal of 'universal' EMR adoption not realistic

Well, it needed to be said.

With only 6 percent of office-based physicians using fully functioning EMRs, according to the most recent CDC statistics, it's not exactly likely that all citizens will have interoperable EMRs by 2014. That doesn't take a lot of brainpower to figure out.

What hasn't been said is that, considering the program for "meaningful use" will run through at least 2018, the federal government's own goals don't exactly jibe with breathless presidential rhetoric. And it still isn't said in an InformationWeek interview with Dr. Kip Webb, leader of the clinical transformation practice at Accenture.

When asked if he thought current goals were realistically achievable, Webb said, "I don't." He erroneously cited President George W. Bush's pronouncement "universal" EMRs within 10 years of Bush's 2004 speech. (Webb said, and InformationWeek reported that Bush set the goal in 2005. Bush also called for "most Americans" to have EMRs, not "all Americans," by 2014.) Last year, President Obama upped the ante by calling for universal EMRs by 2014. In any case, Obama, Bush and Webb all did compare that to President John F. Kennedy's 1961 goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

"In many ways putting a man on the moon was easier than getting every patient an electronic medical record, which shouldn't be the case, but it is," Webb said.

Though CMS starts docking providers for not meeting meaningful use by 2015, some physicians just can't or won't be persuaded by the federal carrots and sticks. Webb cited a recent Accenture study of small physician practices that indicates 18 percent of current non-EMR users have no plans to go digital. "Those people typically are older physicians and tend to be in smaller groups with one- or two-physician offices," Webb told InformationWeek.

For more (and make sure you do your own fact-checking):
- take a look at this InformationWeek story