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EHR rules may be counterproductive: AMA board


By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: June 14, 2010 - 12:15 pm ET
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Although American Medical Association members last year asked the AMA's board to push for regulation of personal health records and a basic common interface for electronic health records, the board reported back that—for right now—it might be best to stay out of the way.

These and other information technology subjects were debated in a reference committee meeting June 13 during the second day of the AMA's annual House of Delegates meeting in Chicago. Committee members will draw up their recommendations, and the full House will vote on suggestions later this week.

Elizabeth Curtis, a rheumatologist from North Andover, Mass., said she knew that, although full EHR interoperability is not possible at this time, vendors should be able to have a standardized user interface that offers easy access to a patient's recent medical history and lists of medications and allergies. “This is an urgent matter,” she said. “This is a patient-safety issue.”

Board member Steven Stack, a Lexington, Ky.-based emergency medicine physician, said that although he didn't disagree with the sentiment, trying to force vendors into a standard template at this stage “will stifle innovation.”

“It's like locking in Betamax so we'll never get to Blu-ray DVDs,” he said.

At last year's interim meeting in Houston, a resolution was approved that directed the AMA to formulate guidelines and use those guidelines to enact legislation. Stack said it was determined that it would be premature to push for legislative guidelines as PHRs are rapidly evolving and their use was still very low among patients.

Other IT subjects debated included getting the AMA to work toward reversing the Veterans Affairs Department's discontinuation of participation in state prescription-monitoring database programs and pushing for some regulation of physician-rating websites.

Gregor Emmert Jr., a urologist from Toledo, Ohio, argued that pushing for regulation of online profiles could backfire. “Are we unintentionally going to lend legitimacy to these websites that they currently don't have?” he asked.

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