On January 27th, I posted a piece on HealthBlog titled A “right-sized” EMR? Tablet PC + Microsoft Office OneNote. I explained how many doctors who can’t afford or don’t like the well known, branded EMR solutions currently on the market, have turned to lower-priced, sometimes home-grown commodity solutions. I gave the example of a dermatologist in Los Angeles who has been using Microsoft Office OneNote as his EMR. I also mentioned the Ablet Factory, a company that has for several years been selling an EMR documentation solution for Tablet PCs that uses Microsoft Office OneNote as its foundation. But in closing, I cautioned that:
If there is a downside here, it is that this EMR solution isn’t “certified” by ONCHIT. It also may not meet “meaningful use” criteria. So, if you are looking for a government handout to pay for your EMR, you are likely out of luck.
I went on to say, On the other hand, thousands of docs in solo or small group practices have found an easy pathway to digitizing patient records that is simply “good enough”, at least for now. And this solution will only set you back about $700 for software….. At those prices, who needs a bailout from the government anyway?
Yesterday, I received an e-mail from President Obama’s Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra. Apparently he or someone on his staff subscribes to HealthBlog. I wanted to share what he said because I think he has a very important and uplifting message for physicians and perhaps for the EMR industry itself. Mr. Chopra wrote:
Dr. Crounse – my reaction to your post (which was terrific) largely reflects my interest in making sure our regulations and incentive payments enable the kind of product innovations you referenced in the blog. While the OneNote+Tablet might not be sufficient to achieve “meaningful use”, it most certainly could be a component that, when combined with other components, could deliver a physician-friendly solution that happens to also be low-cost and value-creating.
My friend and colleague Dr. David Kibbe, who has been very supportive and quite involved in CGwC, provides a thoughtful overview of the opportunities and challenges for Clinical Groupware in his February 7th post on The Health Care Blog titled EHR Redux. Speaking of the recent reforms put forward by the federal government, Dr. Kibbe notes that:
“Taken together, these reforms will have profound changes on the marketplace for EHR technology over the next five years. Already, new entrants are poised to bring innovative products and services to the 85% of physicians who don’t yet use EHR technology in their practices. PracticeFusion, Optum/UnitedHealth, Medicity, RMDNetworks, Relay Health, Covisint, DocSite, AthenaHealth, and McKesson/HP are among the companies who have recently announced a "meaningful use EHR technology" offering that makes use of a "platform" with some degree of exchangeable, modular applications, along the lines of what is described in the IFR (Interim Final Rule). And there will be many others. Costs for these products are generally lower, and in some cases significantly lower, than the comprehensive EHRs with which they will be competing.”
So perhaps on this Friday as the world turns its attention to the opening of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, there is hope for the future of clinical computing and electronic health records. Thank you, Aneesh Chopra, for opening a door to the possibilities and potential of Health ICT solutions that are so sorely needed by clinicians and consumers around the world.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft