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Blumenthal to Healthcare Providers: Take EHR ‘Plunge’ Now

ONC Director Dr. David Blumenthal, Photo: hhs.gov, claim-care.net

The director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Dr. David Blumenthal, has a simple message for healthcare providers pondering whether and how to adopt electronic health records: Just do it.

“Now is the time. . . .  Never again will the same level of resources and talent be devoted to helping providers make the switch to health IT,” said Blumenthal in a letter released last week, according to a Nextgov report.

While many healthcare providers are quick to adopt EHR and show  “meaningful use” of health IT practices to gain federal incentives, not every healthcare provider is willing or able just yet.

For example, smaller office-based healthcare providers may be less likely to adopt electronic health records than hospitals according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies.

According to those figures, about 80 percent of hospitals said they planned to invest in EHRs, while only about 41 percent of office-based physicians said they planned to.

In his letter, Blumenthal stressed that investing in health IT can be “hard work,” especially for smaller practices, “where the vast majority of physicians work and where most of patient care is coordinated and documented.”

But, he added that has been “gratified that such sizable percentages of physicians and hospitals intend to take the plunge – and to take the plunge sooner than later.”

As Nextgov points out, though, Blumenthal’s gratification is not the only outcome driving EHR adoption.

The longer healthcare providers procrastinate, the smaller the incentive payment. And, after five years, healthcare providers who refuse to use EHRs will pay penalties.

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