As most people know, I’m always open to guest posts from everyone and anyone that can provide a thoughtful perspective on a subject. In the following guest post, Charlie Jarvis, AVP at NextGen, shares some of his thoughts on the HITECH act’s impacts. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in this guest post, but I do believe that Charlie’s description of the “ambivalent” EMR buyer seems to be pretty accurate. This will be a major challenge we need to overcome. I’m hoping to follow up this post with an interview of Charlie.
As the national debate over the economic recovery plan and specifically the entire stimulus package continues, the HITECH sections of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) may be “relatively” less controversial to the American public than other sections of this law But HITECH may wind up being just as important as other more visible pieces of this law-and central to the discussion around health care reform. HITECH will drive EMR adoption as we all know. But what does this really mean, beyond the sheer massive amounts of money being thrown at this effort?
I contend that HITECH is going to “stimulate” the following actions in our health care sector, beyond the obvious ones of job creation and expanded health care automation:
- the evolution of coordinated care (among independent doctors), around the individual patient- a concept known as patient –centered care
- a focus on true quality of care outcomes, and the necessary paradigm shift in physician behavior to a focus on the health care outcomes of patients rather than simply the results of individual treatments or procedures
- the necessity of independent small (1-5) physician practices to either consider joining with their hospital, creating larger independent groups, or affiliating with an IPA or other such organization that can support their technology needs going forward; their ability to remain independent will suffer dramatically (an after many economic activities in the past have failed to unite doctors, this one appears to be able to have that effect)
All of these actions are going to challenge the medical practitioner to adopt a new view of their practice and indeed of medicine in general. And all of us who support physicians are likewise challenged with the responsibility to support physicians through this potentially overwhelming process. Our job is to focus not on independent opportunity for success in this new model but rather to understand and accept our role in helping reform care achieve its intended goal- the improved health care service to the patient, at a price they or their insurance carrier can afford.
While there is a great deal of excitement among many with the availability of incredible amounts of money to support HIT adoption, we must remember that a large portion of the medical community is viewing this “technology explosion” as something being forced upon them rather than an action that they enthusiastically embrace. And in an environment where the right EHR product is not always obvious (the government’s definition of certified HIT products and issuance of a certified HIT product list is not ready yet although everything points to CCHIT remaining their certifying body), we have a potentially disenchanted and ambivalent “buyer”.
And this purchasing “ambivalence” does not even begin to address the concern most doctors have over the fact that how they will be judged as caregivers in the future, will be largely dependent on reports of data which they will be required to capture and report. (And finally, if that is not enough, their ability to automate successfully will be published on the government’s health website for all the population to see.)
This may be an exciting and tremendously opportunistic time for America to reform its health care system- but the automation plan is going to have it’s challenges. We had better be up to it as a team!!
Assistant Vice President Health Services and Government Relations
NextGen Healthcare Information Systems, Inc.