Law mandating EHR use to maintain licensure seen as 'misguided'

At least one provider has taken a stand against a provision of a Massachusetts law passed last summer that requires physicians to demonstrate that they use electronic health records and other health IT as a condition of maintaining their license to practice medicine in the state. 

In a post published to The Health Care Blog May 27, Hayward Zwerling, M.D.--who also serves as president of North Chelmsford, Mass.-based EHR developer ComChart Medical Software, LLC--called the legislation "misguided," saying it "gives politicians the right to specify the processes that must occur during office visits." 

The provision, part of a larger law addressing the need to deal with healthcare costs and increased transparency, reads as follows: 

"The board [of Registration of Medicine] shall require, as a standard of eligibility for licensure, that applicants demonstrate proficiency in the use of computerized physician order entry, e-prescribing, electronic health records and other forms of health information technology, as determined by the board. As used in this section, proficiency, at a minimum shall mean that applicants demonstrate the skills to comply with the 'Meaningful Use' requirements." 

It is not yet known what proficiency requirements the board will require. The law goes into effect in 2015. 

Zwerling recommended that Massachusetts physicians contact their state representatives and ask that the provision be rescinded, as it interferes with the physician/patient relationship. He noted that "it is past time that physicians reclaim control of their offices, if not the practice of medicine."

Massachusetts' tack in favor of health IT differs from legislation proposed in several other states. For instance, a bill introduced in Virginia in January aimed to bar the imposition of Meaningful Use penalties and participation in health information exchanges. Meanwhile, a bill in Oklahoma that would have disbanded its state health information exchange was defeated in a state senate committee in February.

To learn more:
- here's the law
- read the blog post