Blumenthal says docs eventually 'will all support EHRs'

Returning to the 2004 roots of the national health IT coordinator's role as cheerleader-in-chief for EHRs, Dr. David Blumenthal took advantage of a public speech last week to say that EHRs will indeed be in widespread use nationwide in the not-too-distant future.

"History has shown that things that improve healthcare become part of what is used. I propose to you that in a few years doctors will all support EHRs," Blumenthal said at the 18th National HIPAA Summit in Washington, according to Healthcare IT News. "Using EHRs will become a core competency for physicians. And once we've established that, it will be considered an absolute requisite."

The national coordinator then said EHR adoption will take an escalator-like trajectory once federal financial incentives kick in next year. "I think we're going to see the upward slope of the adoption curve within a year or two, but it will be difficult to predict the slope," Blumenthal said.

Another top HHS IT booster, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Director Dr. Carolyn Clancy, said that the pace of adoption will depend on how useful electronic health data is to physicians. "Information is the lifeblood of medicine," Clancy told the gathering. "Clinicians are trained to look at patients one at a time. But, what's missing is aggregated information." AHRQ, of course, is in charge of comparative-effectiveness research, and thus will be providing such aggregated information to help establish standards of care.

For more on EHRs from the HIPAA Summit:
- take a look at this Healthcare IT News story