Use EMR…or else!

Hayward Zwerling of the Health Care Blog notes that a large number of doctors in Massachusetts may soon be losing their license.  Section 108 of Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012 states:

The first paragraph of section 2 of chapter 112 of the General Laws … is hereby amended by inserting (the following)… The board (of Registration in Medicine) shall require, as a standard of eligibility for (medical) licensure, that applicants demonstrate proficiency in the use of computerized physician order entry, e- prescribing, electronic health records and other forms of health information technology, as determined by the board. As used in this section, proficiency, at a minimum shall mean that applicants demonstrate the skills to comply with the “meaningful use” requirements(1).

In other words, Massachusetts physicians who do not use a Federally certified-EMR and Meaningful Use requirements will be denied a license to practice medicine effective 2015.

This approach is non-sensical.  In a market economy, patients would likely be willing to pay a premium for physicians who used EMR.  Medicare also has a more sensible policy: docs who doen’t use EMR or e-prescribing (eRx) receive lower reimbursement rates.  But prohibiting a doctor from practicing medicine because of failure to use EMR–in essence, licensing requirements–will hurt patients, particularly those with established relationships with older doctors for whom EMR investments do not make economic sense.


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