As Promised, Your Voice Was Heard

At Friday’s HIT Policy Committee meeting, SRSsoft Vice President of Government Affairs, Lynn Scheps, presented the Voice of the Physician petition to David Blumenthal, M.D., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and to each member of the committee (see pictures below). Lynn went to Washington, D.C., to make sure that the decision-makers heard your voice loudly and clearly—she urged them to read the petition and to heed the comments submitted by SRS clients and the comments written by non-SRS users. Taking the microphone, Lynn addressed the group with the following statement:

Presentation of the Voice of the Physician to the HIT Policy Committee
August 14, 2009

I have attended your past meetings via webcast, but I felt it was important to be here today to personally deliver this book, which you received this morning. The Voice of the Physician is a petition asking you to listen to private-practice physicians, on whose participation the success of the program depends. These are the physicians who will have to “achieve” what their EHR only has to be “capable of achieving.” They implore you to consider the daily realities of medical practice as you move forward.

The fact that a relatively small company like ours would receive such a response in just a few weeks, with minimal outreach efforts, is an indication of the deep level of concern pervading the physician community. Two things are clear: Physicians feel that their voice is not being heard and they perceive the government’s expectations as overly burdensome from a practical perspective.

The signers of this petition are not all SRS clients. Other providers reached out to us and asked that we stand up for them as well. SRS users or not, they are passionate about EHRs, and they speak from positive and negative experience with a variety of EHR products. Three fundamental themes dominated:

  • Physicians will not adopt technology that compromises their productivity,
  • They will not become data entry clerks, and
  • They will not jeopardize the physician-patient relationship.

No financial incentives or penalties will persuade these physicians to take actions they deem detrimental, or not valuable, to their practices.

One hundred and fifty of the signers of the petition are so concerned that they took the time to compose their own supplemental comments for you to consider. I hope that you will take the time to read through even a portion of them—their tone, intensity, and content provide valuable insight into what will be necessary to successfully encourage widespread EHR adoption.

Lynn Scheps, VP Government Affairs, SRS

SRS Vice President of Government Affairs, Lynn Scheps, distributes petition

Petition Distribution

The petition alongside the meeting agenda

Make It Happen!

The message is clear—physicians are concerned that their interests are being ignored, and they want their voices heard.

SRS is making that happen. We hear the voice of the physician and we will be broadcasting it to President Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Dr. David Blumenthal, the HIT Policy Committee, the HIT Standards Committee, and leading industry blogs.

Following last week’s post, entitled “The Silent Majority is Being Heard – Let’s Be Louder,” we invited SRS clients and non-clients alike to let us represent their voices in Washington. The response from physicians and practice administrators has been tremendous—not only have we already received an unprecedented number of signatures to our letter to government officials, but we are being deluged with individual comments to be forwarded along with the letter…and they are still pouring in.

There is still time to join the campaign:

  • Sign our letter and/or add your own comments.
    Click below to read and then sign:

SRS Client Petition Non-Client Petition

  • Share this with your colleagues—physicians and practice administrators—and encourage them to let us speak for them.

Whether your practice is using SRS, has another EMR, or is still on paper charts, this is about you. Will you be able to meet the increasingly stringent “meaningful use” requirements currently under consideration by the government? The following are just a few of the voices that your peers have already asked us to share with Washington:

  • “We support efforts to reduce the cost of healthcare without reducing quality, and we recognize the value of a computer-based health record for quickly sharing patient information with other providers and avoiding duplication of services. However, the methodology for doing so should not be so burdensome as to change how a physician practices medicine, particularly if it interferes with patient-doctor interaction.”
  • “We have implemented an EMR system in our practice and are leaders in our area in implementation of new technology. However, despite numerous attempts, we have failed to find an EHR system for entering clinic notes and orders that improves efficiency. Instead we have found it only makes us more inefficient, less productive, and more frustrated. The right technology is not here yet. We cannot be forced to implement a flawed system.”
  • “I am a primary care doctor. Point-and-click does not work for us either. The vast array of problems that we handle requires a more flexible way to document a visit. We handle usually 3 different issues on average per visit. Point-and-click falls apart if there is more than one chief complaint or if the patient tells us something that has not been considered by the point-and-click software. The documentation is forced to become less accurate. There is also an impact on the relationship with the patient since the doctor spends more eye contact with computer rather than the patient. I am not a doctor who is afraid of technology. I have a degree from M.I.T. in electrical engineering and worked as an engineer for years before changing careers. If point-and-click EMRs were useful, my practice would have had it years ago. Electronic prescribing has benefits and we have been doing that for years. We have a hybrid system that we currently use and will add other features when it makes sense. I do not believe we will ever use a point-and-click system even with incentives.”

The AMA is expressing the same concerns that we have been voicing—they formally came out against the planned penalties in the federal stimulus plan at their annual meeting this month.

Please add your own voice now, and let us make sure that you are heard.