As one way to encourage physician adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology is looking for some "physician champions" who have made major strides in becoming meaningful users of EHRs--and are willing to share their knowledge with others.
Meaningful Use Vanguard (MUV) participants--or MUVers--work with their area regional extension centers (RECs) to assist providers who are looking for ways to deploy EHRs and become meaningful users themselves so they can qualify for incentive payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reports Government Health IT.
This week, the ONC included on its website the story of a solo internist, John O'Neill, MD, of Middletown, Del., who began using EHRs three years ago.
O'Neill is one of 221 MUVers in Delaware that has worked with the state's REC. The REC has plans to recruit a total of 300 physician champions. The REC would usually charge $100 an hour for its consulting services, but because of the Recovery Act grant it received, that fee is $10 an hour for primary care physicians in practices with less than 10 physicians.
The upfront costs of implementing certified EHR technology are not insignificant. However, the REC, which does not make recommendations on EHR vendors, can be very helpful at reviewing the contract and suggesting the weeding out of potentially unnecessary "bells and whistles" to help reduce upfront costs of EHR implementation, O'Neill said.
O'Neill says he now "couldn't imagine practicing any other way. If I had to go back to the old way, I'd probably quit."