Electronic health record rules pose problems for some dermatologists

October 1, 2010

The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) among dermatologists is hitting a stumbling block - namely, the onerousness of final "meaningful use" rules recently released by the federal government. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently released guidelines for earning government incentives for implementing the paperless systems.

Key Points

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not all physicians are rushing to embrace electronic health records (EHRs). In this issue, we look at what the new "meaningful use criteria" may mean to dermatologists who are considering making the switch. We explore how "dermatology certification" may impact purchasing decisions ("EHR dermatology certification may not sway physicians to buy systems"), and we talk to doctors who have already made the change - and are very satisfied ("Early adopters of electronic health records say they're satisfied").

National report - The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) among dermatologists is hitting a stumbling block - namely, the onerousness of final "meaningful use" rules recently released by the federal government.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently released guidelines for earning government incentives for implementing the paperless systems, encouraged as a more efficient and interactive way to archive and access health data.

Announced on July 13, CMS' final meaningful use rules divide 25 previously all-or-nothing objectives into 15 "core" targets (such as recording patient demographics and maintaining active medication lists), and 10 "menu items," five of which physicians can defer until 2013.

Menu items range from drug formulary checks to patient reminders. Final rules also require physicians to demonstrate use of clinical quality measures - three mandatory, three chosen from a list of 38.

"There are a bunch of criteria that will take time to fulfill," he says. "Many people will look at this and say, 'This is crazy - it takes so much time that I can't actually deal with the patient who came to see me.'"

Accordingly, Dr. Siegel says meaningful use objectives "may not be much of a nudge to push dermatologists into going ahead. Many people are still hedging as long as they can" on implementing the systems.