Many physicians could discover that just because they implement an electronic health record system that is certified to meet meaningful use doesnt mean it is capable of connecting with all the entities with which physicians want to exchange data.
Experts are advising physicians who are adopting EHRs to think about what data exchange they plan to do and ensure that the system is capable of doing it. And that goes beyond checking for meaningful use certification.
Notwithstanding the improved information flow that an electronic health record makes possible within a hospital or medical practice, even certified EHRs often have limited capacity to share important care-related data with other EHRs, in effect creating electronic information silos, stated Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH, director of the University of California, Davis Health Systems Institute for Population Health Improvement, in a statement.
The IPHI developed the HIE Ready Buyers Guide, which addresses these limitations by rating EHR systems on their capability to perform certain data exchange functions. For practices in California, the guide also lists health information organizations in the say and the services they offer.
Customization often is needed for information to flow between some EHRs or between EHRs and health information organizations, Dr. Kizer said.
Dixon Davis, vice president of business development at AAPC Physician Services, a practice management consulting firm based in Salt Lake City, agreed. You can have the same system implemented in many different ways, he said.
Meaningful use certification ensures that EHRs can send data from one point to another, Davis said. But information exchange from one party to another is different than tying five entities together. Meaningful use eventually will get there, he said, but the exchange requirements EHRs must meet to be certified for meaningful use are limited mostly to exchange between one organization and another, not across multiple settings.
Physicians will need to speak with the organizations with whom they plan to exchange data including labs, other practices, hospitals and health information organizations to find out what abilities their systems must have, Davis said.
He stated the process can be very overwhelming. When you begin to feel that anxiety, just get into it step by step. And meaningful use is a good way to do it, just because thats where you are going to be paid money just to follow those recommendations for moving forward. And they will step you by stages.
Copyright 2012 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
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