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TMA supports the development of a strong HIT infrastructure in Texas that furthers the quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care and simultaneously protects the privacy and security of patient information. In embracing new applications of technology for patient care and patient-physician communication, appropriate standards need to be developed and maintained to ensure this occurs. For example, a lower standard of care is not justified merely because the patient lives in a remote area and may receive some treatment via telemedicine.


Electronic Health Records The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allocated more than $90 million in grants to Texas to improve HIT across the state. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act authorized incentives of up to $63,750 for physicians participating in Medicare and Medicaid who adopt and meaningfully use EHRs. These incentives are particularly helpful as the technology is very expensive, and physicians — especially in solo and small group practices — frequently cite cost as a major barrier to EHR adoption.29


The federal government also


established four Texas regional extension centers to help primary care physicians select, implement, and achieve meaningful use of EHRs.


About half of office-based physicians use an EHR in their practice. With the recent Medicare and Medicaid incentives, this number is expected to grow to 75 percent by 2018.30


“structured data.” This is required even if the physician practices a specialty where height and weight play little or no role in the medical care they provide to patients. Do patients really want to be weighed at the ophthalmologist when updating their eyeglass prescription? According to the federal government, if a physician “believes that one or two of these vital signs are relevant to their scope of practice, then they must record all three vital


A PHYSICIAN’S STORY


Chris Crow, MD Plano


Health Information Technology Gives Needed Feedback


As HIT use continues


to expand, it is vital for Texas to protect patients and their physicians in this evolving environment.


Many times, government agencies and payers put demands on physicians that disrupt workflow. These demands come on top of the already extensive disruptions and intrusions physicians experience.


For instance, to achieve the goals of “meaningful use,” the federal government requires that physicians have a system that tracks patients’ height, weight, and blood pressure as part of


September 2012 TEXAS MEDICINE 67


“Being in a paper world is the same as drivng your car either without a dashboard or maybe even blindfolded. If you do not have feedback about how you are doing in your practice through reporting, whether it be financial, quality, cost, efficiency, customer satisfaction. If you don’t have that type of feedback for you and your staff. You can’t play in a game where cost and quality matter, which is what the whole national discussion is about.”


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