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Electronic Medical Records and Obama's Economic Plan

Armen Hareyan's picture

On Dec. 6, President-elect Obama announced the three major pillars of his economic recovery plan: rebuild our roads/bridges, enhance our schools including broadband, and deploy electronic health records for every clinician and hospital in the U.S.

I can summarize all my advice to the new administration in one sentence: Allocate Federal funds of $50,000 per clinician to states, which will be held accountable (use it or lose it) for rapid, successful implementation of interoperable CCHIT certified electronic records with built in decision support, clinical data exchange, and quality reporting.

Not only will this improve care coordination which will lead to better health care value (reduced cost, enhanced quality), it will create jobs.

Just how many jobs would this create? For just the Beth Israel Deaconess Community Clinician project, here's the list of jobs we created:

In 2009, we will implement 150 physicians in 75 practices, or 13 physicians in 6 practices per month. The direct staff we'll need are:

Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative: 6 FTEs (5 practice consultants plus a project manager)

Concordant: 9 FTEs (5 on-site assessment/design/deployment/support, 2 technical lead/system architect, 2 project management)

eClinicalWorks: 4 FTEs (3 on-site trainers, plus part of a product specialist and a project manager)

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At BIDMC, the project is run by 3 FTEs (Project Director, Technical Lead, Senior Practice Consultant)

Thus we've created 22 jobs for the rollout and support of our EHR project. Multiply this by the number of clinicians needing EHRs in the country and you'll see that the Obama plan will create tens of thousands of new high tech jobs.

When I've discussed the Obama Economic plan with my colleagues, some have said that it's too early to invest in EHRs because they are not yet standards-based or fully interoperable. I believe that commercial EHRs are good enough and as of 2008, we have many real examples of data sharing. Here are the statistics from our work in Massachusetts that includes homegrown EHRs, eClinicalWorks, GE Centricity, Next Gen, Allscripts/Misys, and Epic.

NEHEN - In 2008, we've done 60 million data exchange transactions a year from EHRs, practices management systems, and hospital information systems.

MA-Share - We've done half a million e-prescribing transactions among providers, payers and pharmacies. Every discharge from the hospital and emergency department at BIDMC generates a standards-based clinical summary which is sent electronically to PCPs and referring clinicians. In 2009, we'll expand this to include referral workflow, community to community exchange, and several additional hospitals including Children's.

Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative - We've wired three communities (Brockton, Newburyport, North Adams) with roughly 500,000 patients, 597 physicians in 142 practices in 192 sites, and 4 hospitals including hospital-based laboratories and imaging centers. North Adams went live in May 2007, Newburyport went live in September 2008, and Brockton is 40% complete. Data exchange includes problem lists, procedures, allergies, medications, demographics, smoking status, diagnoses, lab results and radiology results. Standards used include HL7 2.6, Continuity of Care Record/Document, NCPDP Script 8.1, LOINC, CPT4, ICD9, and RxNorm. Over 90% of patients have opted in for community data sharing. Over 300,000 records have been exchanged, all from existing commercial EHRs.

Thus, the EHRs are ready, the standards are harmonized, the architecture is designed, and the only barrier is political. The Obama commitment to a nationwide EHR implementation effort means that 2009 is the tipping point. Let us band together, payer, provider, employer and patient, to make it happen!

See also: I've written several recent blogs about the cost of electronic health records, the state of interoperability, and my predictions for the early healthcare IT activities of the Obama administration.

John D. Halamka, MD, MS, is CIO of the CareGroup Health System, CIO and Dean for Technology at Harvard Medical School, Chairman of the New England Health Electronic Data Interchange Network (NEHEN), CEO of MA-SHARE, Chair of the US Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), and a practicing emergency physician. He blogs regularly at Life as a Healthcare CEO, where this post first appeared.

Reprinted from http://www.thehealthcareblog.com



Very nice post. Hope this will reduce the health care costs and everyone will be able to get Health insurance.
Much work still needed to achieve widespread use of computerized patient records.