The government should just pay for electronic medical records already

Posted on July 25, 2011 I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

Today’s post was inspired by a wonderful little video I saw (over at EHR Bloggers) about CMS’ attempts to get more doctors on board with adopting EHR technology now.  Suddenly, I thought to myself, “I wish that CMS would just stop all this baloney about doctors paying first and then getting a partial reimbursement for their troubles much later.”  Wouldn’t it be great if the powers that be at the HHS and ONC recognized that they could have all the doctors they wanted using EHR or EMR systems?  They should just pay for the EMRs themselves.

If I were still accepting Medicare, I’d love to have a federally-issued credit card that I could use for any certified EHR system and the bill would be directly applied to a government account.  Heck, even if they wanted me to call my orders into a government hotline and get permission from the CMS themselves, I’d be glad to.  I could provide a company, product ID#, and my NPI and office address.  Then they could just ship me anything we both agreed that would allow me to run an EHR system in my practice.  Computers, monitors, LAN cables, whatever.

That would convince me, once and for all, that doctors weren’t going to be stuck with a huge tab to pay at the end of the decade with CMS skipping out.  Forget this “give me service now and maybe I’ll pay you next year” stuff.  It would hammer home that these fancy G-men with their pretty suits and ties and their convenient little common sense talking points shtick, conveniently packaged to sell their ideas to the public and doctors alike, really put their money where their mouth is.  If HHS/ONC wants it, then they should pay for it — hook, line, and sinker.  Doctors are already asked — nay, expected — to give up enough money in agreeing to accept strangling insurance payments, both federal and private.  (Never did get those Medicare cuts back that went through last June…)  I’d agree to purchase any software and hardware equipment needed to provide a certified EMR/EHR system for my patients records if the government would only pay for it.  Imagine taking that cost burden away from doctors.  So many more would suddenly find it possible to get a system up and running.

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.