Health information technology-related measures up for votes at the annual American Medical Association House of Delegates meeting Monday didn't receive much attention—or respect and affection.
Two reports reacting to member complaints about electronic health-record and computerized physician-order entry systems raised at previous meetings were accepted; two resolutions were referred back for further study; and a resolution to offer for free an AMA smartphone application currently available for 99 cents was rejected—but not before the product was ripped as something with which the organization may not want its name associated.
At last fall's interim meeting last November in New Orleans, the California delegation introduced a resolution calling for an EHR "lemon law” and to maintain a record of physician feedback and complaints about health IT products and vendors.
The AMA board of trustees replied with a report that concluded that the AMA should "develop tools, accessible to all AMA members, which can help physicians in the selection and evaluation of electronic health records." The report was approved without discussion.
The CPOE report was in response to a resolution
last year from the Oklahoma delegation calling for the AMA to encourage local, state and federal agencies to slow implementation of EHRs and CPOE for all hospitals.
The man who started the ball rolling on last year's resolution, Dr. Robert Weedn, said the federal government's aggressive schedule for IT adoption was partially to blame. "The timeline put the vendors in the driver's seat and is having people accept products that they wouldn't accept otherwise," Weedn said last year. "Because of the federal mandate, everyone is over the barrel."
At a committee meeting Sunday, AMA Trustee Dr. Barbara McAneny, an oncologist from New Mexico, said slowing implementation of or stopping financial support for health IT “would be inconsistent with AMA policy.”
The report calls on the AMA to advocate for more research on EHR and CPOE systems as well as for "vendor accountability for the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of these systems." It was accepted without discussion on Monday.
A resolution calling on the AMA to look into effects that electronic devices have on doctor-patient communication was referred for study. Dr. Peter Lavine, an orthopedic surgeon from the District of Columbia, said sarcastically that it's unknown whether EHRs improve patient care but that "they definitely improve charting and billing."
Delegates also voted to study a resolution from Texas asking the AMA to analyze the potential increase in errors caused by CPOE and "suggest suitable solutions or alternatives."
The New York delegation introduced a resolution urging the AMA to offer its My Medications app
for free and drop the 99-cent download fee, arguing that this would put the AMA brand "in a more positive light," but other delegates disagreed. One delegate said the app has negative online reviews; another noted that it was a stand-alone product that does not link to an EHR or electronic prescribing system, so it does not help physician workflow.
The resolution was not adopted.