Lawsuits Will Eventually Drive EHR Adoption?

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In the recent #HITsm chat, tireless patient advocate Sherry Reynolds offered this intriguing tweet:


Once EHR’s are the standard of care sadly lawsuits will drive adoption .. “so why didn’t you see the lab results doctor?” #HITsm
@eHealthSherry
Sherry Reynolds

The first question I’d ask based on this tweet is when will EHR become the “standard of care.” I’m sure that some could argue that now based on the $36 billion in EHR incentive money that the government is spending. However, even the most optimistic EHR adoption numbers are at 50% and I’d put it closer to 30% with ambulatory EHR dragging that number down. With that said, what would it take to have EHR as the standard of care that a doctor provider? I’m not a lawyer, but I know a number of healthcare lawyers read this blog. I hope that some of them will chime in with their thoughts.

Sherry’s last comment about not having the lab results points more towards the exchange of healthcare data being the real issue a doctor could face. Not only would this be a potential lawsuit issue for doctors, but at some point enough patients will ask this question as well. I’m sure most doctors aren’t worried since we’re pretty far from that tipping point.

I do think that doctors are quite attune to liability and can be a very big motivating factor for them. I think the same will happen with insecure text messaging in healthcare. The first couple lawsuits against a doctor for sending PHI over text and we’ll see widespread adoption of secure text platforms.

While I can see some of the realities that Sherry tweeted about, a part of me really hates to think that fear of lawsuits would end up being the driving force behind EHR adoption.