EHR Matters

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Topics Include:

  1. Consumer Watchdog’s perspective on Google’s PHR (personal health record).
  2. American College of Physicians view on small practice adoption of EMR/EHR (electronic medical record/ electronic health record).
  3. MGMA President and CEO, Dr. William Jessee’s position on EMR/EHR (electronic medical record/ electronic health record) adoption.
  4. Acting Deputy Assistant Sec. of the VA Scott Cragg’s plan to create an integrated EMR/EHR (electronic medical record/ electronic health record) system for all veterans served by both the VA and DOD.

Category: EHR Matters
Date: April 30, 2009
Views:3,481 views

Hello I’m Lindsay Pine and this is EHR Matters for Thursday, April 30th.

Controversy continues to surround internet search giant, Google and its PHR (personal health record) Google Health. Last week, we reported on a Boston Globe story that revealed inaccuracies in patients’ Google Health Records. Now the advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog has released documents that they claim indicate lobbyists for Google were pushing Congress to permit the sale of Personal Health Records (PHRs). Google has long denied such lobbying efforts.

As it stands right now online Personal Health Records (PHRs) such as Google Health and its rival, Microsoft’s HealthVault™ – may not be governed by the same laws that strictly prohibit the sale of health data by health insurance companies or medical providers.

Google insists it has never lobbied in order to create that exclusion and calls the Consumer Watchdog charges “baseless.” A company spokeswoman said, “Although Google – unlike a health care provider – is not covered by the law, we have in place strict data security policies and measures, and ensure that users control access to their information.” She added that the company had in fact lobbied Congress to support national standards for health information exchange and to protect consumer privacy.

Speaking in Washington yesterday, acting deputy assistant secretary of the VA, Scott Cragg said that the VA and the Department of Defense will move very quickly to create an integrated EMR/EHR (electronic medical record/ electronic health record) software system for all veterans served by the two departments. Last week President Obama charged the departments with creating a path to integration of the DOD’s AHLTA and the VA’s VistA EHR platforms. In a quote given to the Washington Post, President Obama said, "Currently, there is no comprehensive system in place that allows for a streamlined transition of health records between DOD and the VA."

At a breakfast for members of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Cragg said the new system will “not be a health record. It is not a benefits record. It is a lifetime electronic record. My job for the foreseeable future is to put a program together and to define the requirements for the VA especially in the IT arena”. Cragg would not elaborate on the details of the program sighting “the sensitivity and visibility of the project.” He added however that policy decisions will be made in very short time frame.

Many in the HIT industry believe full scale adoption of EMRs/EHRs (electronic medical records/ electronic health records) hinges on small group practices. Dr. Jeffrey P. Harris, President of the American College of Physicians, has said, “Although there are a wide variety of EHR products on the market, adoption rates remain low, especially among small and solo physician practices." And now the head of a prominent trade association for small practices is advising his membership to take a wait and see approach to EMR/EHR (electronic medical record/ electronic health record) adoption. Dr. William Jessee, President and CEO of Medical Group Management Association, has said small practices should hold back before plunging into an EMR/EHR (electronic medical record/ electronic health record) software implementation.

There are a lot of still unanswered questions regarding certification and funding for incentives, said Jessee. He feels that acting now could cost small practices more in the long run. “The last thing anybody wants to do is implement an electronic health record only to find out it doesn't meet the federal requirements," said Jessee. He is quick to add however that his organization is "very supportive of the idea that group practices need to get much more sophisticated about how they use electronic tools of all types to drive out waste and make health care more efficient."

I’m Lindsay Pine and this has been EHR Matters – Thanks for watching.

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