Big Plans for Small Practices

Several days ago the New York Times featured an article titled “How to Make Electronic Medical Records a Reality.” EHRs and their challenges have become a popular topic in the mainstream media. Maybe that’s what a couple billion dollars of federal money will do for a topic that’s been scuffing along.

The Times piece nicely highlights the challenge of implementing health IT in small physician practices, a primary healthcare target in the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA.

“There’s no way small practices can effectively implement electronic health records on their own,” says Dr. Farzad Mostashari in the article. “This is not the iPhone.”

Mostashari heads New York City’s Primary Care Information Project, which helps small practices implement health IT. Their technical support and educational services are similar to those that ARRA seems to envision for regional health IT “extension agencies.”

HIM professionals aren’t well known to many small physician practices, in part because the information management needs—and budgets—of small practices haven’t been great enough. But EHRs and ARRA may change that, since HIM professionals offer the kind of skills that can help small practices plan, implement, and manage their health IT systems.

In particular, HIM professionals can help on the front end, assessing needs and practices and redesigning workflows. They bring compliance backgrounds to IT systems, especially related to maintaining legally sound electronic records, and a focus on designing for, and managing, data integrity.

For more on these and other emerging issues that may introduce more HIM professionals and physician practices, see “Physician Practices and Information Management” in the August 2008 Journal.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you Kevin for posting this article which highlights one of the bottlenecks to effective EMR implementation.

    Best wishes,

    Ron Festine
    Health Information Professionals

    AHIMA Member

    Post a Reply
  2. Thank you Kevin for this article I found it very informative, this is the reality at this moment, we need to work more faster in the implementation of EMR.

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