Guest blog post by Karen Burton

While hospitals are steadily adopting and implementing health IT (HIT), individual physicians and smaller providers are taking longer to adopt all the technologies required to meet “meaningful use” standards — for the most part because of cost, training time and the effort needed to move from paper to electronic systems. These providers are not only missing out on the HITECH incentives today, but if they don’t adopt by 2015, they will face penalties in the form of decreased Medicare reimbursements.

Long term it’s a no-brainer: HIT does lead to reduced care costs and improved patient care.

Here’s some good advice on how to accelerate your organization’s pace.  Anita Karcz, MD, Chief Medical Officer at IHM Services Company, has come up with 6 ways to adopt meaningful use:

  1. Don’t ignore the human side: It is important to keep the people who will be using it in mind when implementing a new system. Using a long-term communicative process that focuses on the end goal of employees adapting to the system is key.
  2. Take a fresh approach: Use the new information available to better analyze and meet your patients’ needs.
  3. Do it with data: Using the amount of new information available will also give the opportunity to improve care for a wider range of patients.
  4. Recognize the importance of education: Educating the organization to the system is important. A good way to do this is to educate a pilot group first, and then use the feedback that you get to educate the rest of the organization.
  5. Remember the roles: With all of the information your system will be holding about patients it is important to remember the roles of employees and patients when giving patient information out, and the benefits of educating the patients while revealing information.
  6. Minimize risk, maximize benefit: It is important to bring the organization up to speed with health IT. It not only benefits the organization, but the patients also benefit.

Do you believe that HITECH and other regulatory requirements to move to electronic systems are key to moving us to a future healthcare system that is lower in costs and delivers better quality care?  Or is HIT only hype? Let us know your additional thoughts about HIT in the comments below.

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