Health information technology is beneficial but many obstacles still exist to developing systems in small physician practices, according to healthcare executives who testified today at a House Small Business Committee hearing.
Much of health IT is focused on mainstream, larger businesses with little thought given about how to adapt technology for individual providers or small bands of doctors, said Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez in her remarks during the meeting, which focused on cost and confidentiality issues for implementing electronic health records in small specialty practices. If properly implemented, HIT can streamline the flow of complex healthcare data, which will improve communication among physicians and hospitals, she said.
EHR systems are costly and time-consumingtwo barriers for smaller practicesbut health IT does improve patient safety and quality, according to Philip Tally, a physician with a small neurosurgical practice in Bradenton, Fla., who testified on behalf of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Tallys practice has spent tens of thousands since 1992 developing, upgrading and maintaining electronic records, he said.
Health IT adoption rates among physicians in general has been slow, according to recent studies. Tally said the government can help motivate IT use.
Congress can help pave the way to widespread adoption of health information technology by passing legislation that will ensure the implementation of standards for interoperability and by providing financial assistance and incentives to physicians and practices, he said. Tally added that rushing the implementation process or forcing doctors to adopt IT they arent prepared for would only create more resentment among physicians.