June 22, 2015
The goals outlined by the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 are worthy; however, it might increase administrative burden on physicians. Mentioned below are five goals that physicians will have to achieve by focusing on collections, use and sharing of interoperable health information.
Expansion of health IT adoption-
Physicians will be required to increase the adoption and use of HIT systems and products. They will have to increase the confidence of users in the safety of the HIT products
Advancement of interoperable, secure health IT-
Providers sending and receiving electronic health information will be required to keep the information secure through technical standards
Strengthening of healthcare delivery-
Healthcare access will have to be improved by using technology to support high-value healthcare
Advancement in health and well-being of individuals and communities-
Consumers will have to be empowered and public health will have to be promoted
Advancement in research, innovation and scientific knowledge-
Access to electronic health information will have to be increased and development of innovative technologies will have to be accelerated
Are federal health IT goals too difficult to comply?
In January 2015, AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) urged the ONC (Office of the National Coordinator) for health IT to ease the burden physicians might face in complying with the outlined goals. According to the academy, the goals are effective; however, the number of rules and regulations from various agencies might increase administrative burden on the physicians.
What is the main challenge?
Digitization of healthcare has been done to ease administrative burden on physicians. With the help of EHR and practice management (PM) software physicians can reduce their dependency on paper and handle tasks with a faster, automated approach. However, the rise in number of data reporting requirements, physicians will end up spending more time on other tasks rather than patient care.
Investing in health IT is not an issue for physicians. It is the task of choosing an appropriate system for their office that poses a challenge for them. For small physician practices that are already struggling with their finances and staffing issues, hiring an IT official for handling the software and systems becomes an additional challenge. They have to spend time and money on choosing and buying an EHR system but at times, they end up spending money on an inappropriate system due to lack of guidance.
Many practices are relying on their practice management vendor or medical billing partner to upgrade their systems. In case the vendor is not compliant or prepared, it will pose serious challenges for the practice.
Practices will have to accept the IT changes if they wish to avoid penalties for not meeting Meaningful Use (MU) standards. Enhanced IT requirements will also increase the need for strict HIPAA compliance. It will also impact physician billing services. In case of medical billing outsourcing, if the vendor isn’t using the latest IT system, it might lead to revenue issues for the practice.
EMR / EHR / Health IT