FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2011
(CHICAGO) — As the implementation of electronic health records (EHR) becomes more wide spread, there are some medical practices that— due to their size or geographic location— might be limited in their ability to achieve implementation by 2015. This would result in financial penalties and potential damage to the viability of their practices.
Expressing concerned for solo practitioners and physicians in small group practices, members of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) House of Delegates voted today to support revisions to the electronic health records program, operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that would create an exemption from mandatory EHR implementation for small group practices and solo practitioners.
While the AOA supports the financial incentives established by the HITECH Act, we are concerned that mandatory implementation by 2015 is extremely difficult for many physicians due to a lack of appropriately designed systems for all specialties, geographic limitations on access to technology, and the costs of purchasing, implementing, and operating EHR systems.
The implementation of financial penalties could force many physicians into not using EHRs or opting out of the Medicare program, which will cause patients to lose access to care.
“Each physician practice faces different circumstances depending on its size, specialty focus and whether it serves patients in a rural or urban setting. Expecting all practices to be able to implement EHR systems at the same capacity is unrealistic,” says Thomas G. Zimmerman, DO, from Oceanside, N.Y. “We feel this exemption will protect both physicians and their patients by preventing unnecessary financial harm to small group practices and solo practitioners.”
About the House of Delegates
The AOA’s House of Delegates, comprised of more than 500 delegates representing osteopathic state medical associations, specialty societies, interns, residents and students from throughout the country, meets annually in July to set organizational policies and elect new officers.
About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 78,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs); promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other health care facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at www.osteopathic.org.