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Time for Change Through Meaningful Use

February 21, 2011
by John DeGaspari
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Barry Chaiken, M.D., chief medical officer of DocsNetwork, Ltd., and moderator for the HIMSS11 session, Achieving Meaningful Use: From Theory to Practice, on Sunday, is confident that meaningful use will transform healthcare. “The time is now and it is going to happen,” he said. Meaningful use s the tool that will make transformation happen, he said. “We are still figuring out how it is going to happen,” he said.

Chaiken said that the U.S. has the highest per capita spending for healthcare compared to other developed nations. “We spend a lot more than anybody else, he said. Yet the U.S. has one of the worst records in preventing deaths for people under the age of 75, he said. ‘We are doing something wrong if we are spending all of this money and we are not getting any value form it,” he said.

Chaiken noted that the face of healthcare is changing rapidly. Most physicians today are employees, as it becomes more difficult to run a private practice today. Graduates from medical schools are embracing the use of clinical IT tools.

What should also change are incentives. “Physicians are incentivized to provide more care,” he said. “We need to remove that moral hazard,” he said. “We need a culture change in healthcare.” Patients have to take some responsibility in their own care, and be educated that more care is not necessarily better care, he said.

Chaiken said the concept of the medical home, encompassing all kinds of care givers working together to treat the patient, has a greater chance of working today because of quality-based measures. He said health providers should use electronic health records, clinical decision support, and e-prescribing as tools for change. But he added that now is the time to think beyond 2012 and 2013. “We need to step back and say, if I put all of this in placed, how this can transform healthcare. ”

He urges physicians and other health providers to think broadly about possibilities for transformation. “Do not stay too focusedon the IT component,” he said. “It’s a tool. Don’t let the tool drive you. You drive the tool to get where you want to go in your organization.”