Anne Meneghetti, MD
Director, Clinical Communications, Epocrates
A New Year, a New Day for EHR Incentives
On January 3rd, registration began for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, and states now have the option to launch Medicaid incentive programs as well. You can register even before having an EHR up and running, since the attestation necessary for 2011 incentive payments does not begin until late springtime.
Widespread EHR use is inevitable. Policymakers tout the advantages of automated drug-allergy and drug interaction checking, built-in decision support, and improved accessibility to medication lists, labs, and medical history. For years, clinicians using Epocrates have asked for the convenience of electronic prescribing as an extension of the drug look-up process in our reference software. Yet, transitions to new technology are not always easy. Especially in solo and small group practices, each individual already wears many different hats; EHR implementation and maintenance is a significant investment in many ways.
As I observe how my colleagues are responding to the opportunities and challenges of EHR implementation, I have noticed a few different patterns emerging:
The Early Adopter. Among the first to use e-prescribing and EHRs, enjoys tinkering with and customizing systems to enhance productivity. Has a reputation for waiting in long lines outside of stores in order to be the first on his block with the latest gadget. Spends countless hours online.
The Aligner. Affiliated with a larger system such as a hospital, integrated delivery network, accountable care organization, or multi-specialty clinic. Relied upon the informatics committee or resident technical wiz to figure out the best solution for the entire system. Hopes that they know what they are doing.
Look Before Leaping. Knows that an EHR is in his or her near-term future, but prefers not to be the guinea pig. Willing to let other people figure out which systems have the best overall profile for technical ease of use, implementation, connectivity, adherence to meaningful use standards, and cost.