A very positive conversation took place at yesterdayâ€™s HIT Policy Committee meeting, and it put the focus squarely on the physiciansâ€”a focus that in the past seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.
The Committee was reviewing and finalizing its comments for submission to CMS on the Proposed Rule for Stage 2. A healthy debate ensued regarding who should have to enter the orders into the EHR to satisfy the CPOE requirementsâ€”the physician or a designated clinical staff member. In response to a suggestion that there were reasons for requiring the physician to personally enter the orders into the system, Neil Calman, MD, raised the discussion to another level by asking about the entire purpose of EHRs and meaningful use. Dr. Calman challenged his fellow committee members to think about how an EHR should be expected to change the way physicians practiceâ€”and how it should not. He asked why we would want to bog physicians down with tasks that other staff were already doing instead of helping physicians focus on the work that utilizes their highest skills and expertise.
The EHR incentives are definitely encouraging EHR adoption, but we should not lose sight of why increased adoption is such an important goal. The value of an EHR to a physician is not the $44,000 incentivesâ€”it is the potential for increased productivity and efficiency, better and safer patient care, and the ability to share information. Itâ€™s easy to get caught up in creating comprehensive measures that ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are met, and in doing so, to lose sight of the practical impact on physiciansâ€™ workflow. In the case of yesterdayâ€™s CPOE debate, the committee came up with a recommendation that preserves the intention of the CPOE measureâ€”and meaningful use in generalâ€”while respecting the value of the physiciansâ€™ time. I hope this conversation will set the tone for future meaningful use deliberations.