When HHS finalizes its Stage 1 rules for meaningful use of EMRs, likely in the next two weeks, don't be surprised if the criteria aren't all that different from those proposed at the end of 2009.
In a post on the ONC's Health IT Buzz blog, national health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal seems to reject the argument from many camps that the proposed standards are too difficult to attain, instead siding with those who believe that EMRs are a centerpiece of true health reform. "The question healthcare providers are facing today is whether we are pushing too hard, too fast to make this important change. I respectfully submit, no. In turn, I ask, 'Can we make these changes expeditiously enough?'" Blumenthal writes.
"This is the time to realize the promise of health IT. Information technology has improved every aspect of our lives, we need to channel information technology to improve our health and care. Providing patients with improved quality and safety, more efficient care and better outcomes is paramount," Blumenthal says, though he doesn't tip his hand on specific points that might be in the final rule.
Blumenthal recalls his days of practicing internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, noting that he resisted switching to an EMR himself. "Over time, however, I found that working with health IT made me a better and safer physician. Most importantly, my patients received better, safer care and improved outcomes," he says. It's time, according to Blumenthal, for all Americans to get better care delivered at lower cost.
He recommends the Regional Extension Center program for providers who might otherwise feel lost on their journey toward meaningful use.