Healthcare in the US has been going through tumultuous phase. The soaring costs and sub-par care has forced the government take curative measures. The American Recovery and Re-investment Act (ARRA), seeks to modernize the current system by perpetuating the use of health IT. ’The current system is not efficient. We are spending more than $2 trillion a year and the quality of outcomes are far from ideal.’, says an industry analyst. Accessibility of information is the keystone for building a sustainable and efficient healthcare system. Hence, EMRs carry a lot of importance.
’The first step in improving a process is to enable effective data capturing and EMR does that.’, says a health IT expert adding, ’Next comes the conversion of data into useful information. This again can be achieved by utilizing the data mining capabilities of EMRs. But that’s not all, EMRs provide a platform for the subsequent phases like standardized reporting and information sharing.’
EMRs have proven to be the cornerstone of the healthcare reform. Digitization of medical information is the first step in the scheme of things to come. EMRs can help lay the foundation for a new healthcare system and this is why adoption of these systems is linked with financial incentives. The CMS has laid down a roadmap for effective utilization of the EMR systems. By completing a set of qualitative objectives, physicians can qualify for monetary incentives by the CMS.
However, while Meaningful Use is promoting EMR adoption, there are those that question the standardization of EMR usage. In a recent post by Dr. Michael Koriwchak, he argues that the government must not dictate the use of technology. He believes that regulation would stifle innovation and have long term consequences. ’Within the HIT industry, Meaningful Use now dominates the discussion at the expense of creativity.’ He adds, ’The alliance between government and the HIT industry has replaced critical analysis with blind enthusiasm and has replaced innovation with mindless regulatory compliance.’
On the other hand, Jim Tate – President of EMRAdvocate.com, believes that in order to build a nationwide interoperable system there has to be an acceptable standard of technology. Jim also backs the Meaningful Use program by stating, ’The gap where we are and where we have to go was so vast that it was obvious it could not be bridged all in one fell swoop. A stair-step process was outlined that included 3 stages.’
While individual opinions may differ, most medical professionals recognize the potential of EMRs. ’What we must realize is that there is no magic pill solution. The EHR technology is still developing and while most of us may not see the benefits right now, we can all envision a more secure future of healthcare through EHRs.’, says Josh Andrews, a health IT analyst and writer.