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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Meaningful Use

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Meaningful Use

This July marked the 16th anniversary of the installation of our electronic medical record. Yup.  I am that weird. Over the first 10-14 years of my run as doctor uber-nerd, I believed that widespread adoption of EHR would be one of main things to drive efficiency in healthcare.  I told anyone I could corner about our drive to improve the quality of our care, while keeping our cash flow out of the red.  I preached the fact that it is possible for a small, privately owned practice to successfully adopt EHR while increasing revenue.  I heard people say it was only possible within a large hospital system, but saw many of those installations decrease office efficiency and quality of care.  I heard people say primary care doctors couldn’t afford EHR, while we had not only done well with our installation, but did so with one of the more expensive products at the time. To me, it was just a matter of time before everyone finally saw that I was right. The passage of the EHR incentive program (aka “meaningful use” criteria) was a huge validation for me: EHR was so good that the government would pay doctors to adopt it. I figured that once docs finally could implement an EHR without threatening their financial solvency, they would all become believers like me. But something funny happened on the way to meaningful use: I changed my mind. No, I didn’t stop thinking that EHR was a very powerful tool that could transform care. I didn’t pine for the days of paper charts (whatever they are). I certainly didn’t mind it when I...
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