American Medical Association Board Secretary Joseph Heyman, M.D., whose Amesbury, Mass., solo obstetrics-gynecology practice has been paperless since April 2001, has been appointed to the Joint Commission Resources Board of Directors.
In describing what he brings to the table for the board of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization's affiliate, Heyman said, "I would be the only small-practice physician who's actually completely paperless and understands what that means -- I have some real-world experience that others don't have."
"I think that's a very important perspective," Heyman said. "Because 80% of physicians in this country are in practices of 10 or less, and it's much more difficult for them to get started on (an electronic medical record system) than it would be for physicians who are in large networks or are hospital-based."
One problem that arises from small practices not having EMR systems, Heyman said, is that -- without access to health information technology -- it is very difficult for these physicians to get involved in quality-improvement initiatives.
Although he was sometimes viewed as the AMA board's "IT guy" and acted as its point person on issues such as EMR standardization, Heyman said he is happy to relinquish that role to new AMA board member Robert Wah, M.D., who is currently the associate chief information officer for the U.S. Military Health System.
"Robert Wah is more knowledgeable," Heyman said. "I was just the point person when it came to IT because I use it every day."
Heyman, who also served as president of the Massachusetts Medical Society from 1996-97, said he took advantage of his paperless system this week by writing electronic prescriptions and arranging a patient's blood transfusion while he was in Washington, D.C., attending the annual meeting of the eHealth Initiative.
"It is possible to do this from a distance," he said.
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