A two-foot view of EHR adoption

Now that I’m over 50, I seem to have more and more opportunities to personally meet specialists in the healthcare community.

My most recent experience was with a podiatrist in La Jolla, Calif. After complaining for almost six months — to anyone who would listen — that “my feet hurt,” and anticipating the marathon of HIMSS12, I finally called my family doctor who referred me to a local podiatrist. After the podiatrist diagnosed my problem and explained the long-term treatment protocol that would be needed, he asked if I had any other questions for him.

What a softball for a policy wonk like me!

So, I asked him if he has an electronic health record system in his solo practice. I had seen technology in a hallway alcove and behind the counter in the reception area, but I had not seen any in the five exam rooms. The podiatrist told me, yes, he does have an EHR, and asked why I was interested. I told him that I have the honor to serve on a Federal Advisory Committee (under both Presidents Bush and Obama) and that I get to advise the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on health IT issues.

Well, you never saw a doctor move so quickly! He closed the exam room door, pulled up a seat next to the exam chair I was sitting in with my naked feet up in the air, and talked to me for almost 10 minutes straight about how much he hates his EHR and those “meaningful use” requirements.

After he finished venting, I asked him how long he’s had his EHR. He said about five years and that it’s a home-grown product from San Diego. He does plan to go after “$44,000” to pay for part of his investment, but couldn’t tell me if his system is “certified,” something he said he’ll be sure to ask his IT specialist. A few questions later, I also learned that his daughter is a policy advisor for a U.S. Congressman in Washington, D.C.!

I tried to explain some of the reasons behind the meaningful use rules and how the government has to ensure that providers are really using the technology in a “meaningful” way. He seemed to understand that, telling me his staff inputs most patient information based on his directions. As the treatments on my aching feet will be going on for months, I’m sure I’ll hear more on this

So, do you talk to your doctors and ask them about health IT and meaningful use? You might be surprised by the answers you get, and find a new area for education and advocacy!

I would love to hear your experiences on discussing health IT or meaningful use with doctors. Please share your stories on the HIMSS Blog.

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