The American Medical Association's ruling House of Delegates came out foursquare in support of developing an electronic health information system and pledged to work closely with fellow physician David Brailer, M.D., the national healthcare information coordinator, in developing it.
The delegates, meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday, passed a resolution calling on the AMA to "closely coordinate" with Brailer's Office of the National Health Information Technology Coordinator in "all efforts necessary to expedite the implementation of an interoperable health information technology infrastructure while minimizing the financial burden to the physician . . . "
The resolution also called for the Chicago-based association to "support the development, adoption and implementation of national health information technology standards through collaboration with public and private interests, and consistent with current efforts to set health information technology standers for use by the federal government . . ."
Brailer, a guest speaker on Saturday at the AMA's midyear meeting, said that electronic medical record systems are "becoming commonplace" at large integrated delivery systems and large physician groups. "I'm worried, though, about small physician offices that struggle to know which electronic health record to buy, how to implement it and how to get value for themselves and their patients," he said.
Brailer said the government was helping by working with the private sector to establish a product certification commission to inspect and endorse EHR systems that meet basic functions. He noted that seven of the 14 commission members are physicians.
Brailer also noted federal efforts to develop regional health information organizations to help physicians, hospitals and other healthcare entities exchange electronic information and the "retasking" of existing quality improvement organizations that currently contract with the Medicare program to assist in the development of these regional information organizations.
He said the government is also working to develop a "medical Internet" to facilitate electronic healthcare information exchange and is addressing the Stark and anti-kickback laws often cited as impediments to the extension of healthcare IT from hospitals and other healthcare entities to physician offices.