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EHR & HIT News Round-Up

by athenahealth Blogmaster,

  • There might be four, or is it three, employees of athenahealth who are not in some way working to ensure our eligible physicians achieve Meaningful Use of our EHR. And now that physicians are starting to attest and get paid, Meaningful Use is getting more attention in the press and other outlets. NEJM weighed in on the meaning of it all with a piece that casts doubt on the eventual benefits and CIO extraordinaire John Halamka, MD, points to the cloud, saying "I believe the only way to rapidly implement electronic health records is via the cloud."  We are hearing a lot of good feedback from our doctors--and some complaints--but also that non-athena doctors are having a devil of a time with Meaningful Use. What have you heard?  
  • Every now and then, an article zooms through email accounts here at athenahealth and this piece on cloud-computing by Vivek Kundra was the latest. The reasons for going to the cloud are plentiful. Here's one example, "Like a large office building, cloud data centers are efficient: many different tenants occupy the same space, sharing the same critical infrastructure, yet each tenant still has its own secure, customizable space." Kundra provided tight budgets as yet another cause. We know that small medical practices with thin margins and even hospital systems that don't want a heavy balance sheet commitment go to the cloud for the same reasons.
  • Two Harvard economists have expressed caution about the cost-saving effectiveness of ACO.
  • The onslaught of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene along the East Coast raised the question again of the medical record security. This came up a few months ago when a tornado hit Joplin, Mo. The main hospital there got hammered but they'd converted from paper to EHR so while the charts were blown into the next county, they'd been backed up.  We were also interested to see this advisory. How do you take your servers with you?? Do you rent a van? And then where do you go? What if the van sinks in the flood? Read like an advertisement for the cloud as far as we could tell!
  • There is also a storm gathering in the form of ANSI 5010. Maybe you've noticed the warnings from our federal government. You will hear more about this from us soon. There are a lot of people here doing a lot of work to make sure our doctors do not suffer from anything more painful than a hangover on Jan. 1, 2012.
  • If physicians are not prepared for the conversion, it seems many will plunge deeper into what's been described as the "digital divide" that ONC has noted and wants to hear more about.
  • Finally, food. There was the news this week that half of Americans drink a "sugary" beverage of some kind very often, which is good news for dentists and corn farmers. Projections of an obese nation are grim. And while a widespread need for large trousers may hurt our chances at the Olympics, it also costs a lot of money to have a fat population. One financial forecast reported in Bloomberg put the price at $66 billion a year in 2030.
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