Meaningfully Use EHR or Lose Your Medical License

Posted on June 11, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The premise of this article just disgusts me. I must admit that I remembered the discussion of tying medical licenses to EHR adoption, but I’d forgotten that Massachusetts actually passed the EHR requirement law. The topic was again ignited by Hayward K Zwerling, MD in this Health Care Blog post. Here’s the Massachusetts law that he sites:

The relevant law is Section 108 of Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012, which reads as follows:
The first paragraph of section 2 of chapter 112 of the General Laws … is hereby amended by inserting (the following)… The board (of Registration in Medicine) shall require, as a standard of eligibility for (medical) licensure, that applicants demonstrate proficiency in the use of computerized physician order entry, e- prescribing, electronic health records and other forms of health information technology, as determined by the board. As used in this section, proficiency, at a minimum shall mean that applicants demonstrate the skills to comply with the “meaningful use” requirements (1).

This law, if it remains, would mean that effective 2015 any physician who isn’t a meaningful user of a certified EHR will be denied a license to practice medicine. That means 50-75% of Massachusetts doctors would lose their license to practice medicine. That’s a huge number of doctors. Can you imagine the impact?

Plus, it’s not like Massachusetts is lagging behind the rest of the country in EHR adoption. In fact, Massachusetts is one of the states with the best EHR adoption. I’m really just dumb founded that someone would be willing to propose, let along pass a law like this.

Don’t get me wrong on this. You won’t find someone that’s more interested in seeing widespread EHR adoption. I think there are tremendous benefits waiting for us once we achieve widespread EHR adoption. I just think you’re insane to think that holding physician’s licenses over their heads is the right way to do it. The very worst way to get doctors to adopt EHR is through coercion.

My gut tells me that there’s no way this law will actually go into effect. Something will have to change between now and 2015. Maybe that was the goal of the legislation. Scare people enough so that they adopt EHR and then repeal the law. That’s a terrible tactic if it’s the case. That’s a strategy that leads to even more EHR switching.