Doctors struggling to cross HIT frontier

Scratch beneath the surface of any policymaker, and you’re likely to find a person who fancies him- or herself a problem solver.

For those HIT policymakers who eagerly step up to that description, we present this article, which takes a long and in-depth look at the issues facing doctors trying to work their way across the HIT frontier.

To start with the good news for policymakers and HIT proponents alike, if the doctors quoted in the article can be considered anywhere near a representative sample of healthcare providers across the country, it seems safe to say there aren’t many doctors who don’t “get” the benefits of new HIT.

The problem is, they’re also very familiar with the frustrations involved with transitioning their practices from paper to electronic records.

Too many vendor choices? The reality of hidden costs (after the sticker shock of upfront costs)? No time to take time away from the care of patients? The burdens of Meaningful Use?

All those challenges and more are laid out in exquisite (or is it excruciating?) detail.

When confronted with such a seamless tale of, if not woe, than certainly angst, policymakers might be tempted to begin scrambling to justify their decisions or look for other experiences that might provide some balance.

We’d suggest, however, that policymakers view the challenges described as questions in search of an answer.

The programs and policies that have flowed out of the HITECH Act might best be viewed as Act One of the government’s attempt to move the healthcare sector into the HIT future. But if they, and the HITECH Act itself, are to be successful, they’ll likely have to be adjusted, perhaps significantly, along the way.

Indeed, the move to push back the MU Stage 2 deadline is just such an adjustment.

For policymakers who fancy themselves problem solvers, the experience of these doctors suggests that more adjustments, perhaps many more, will need to be made, and sooner rather later.

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