On the road to healthcare reform, let’s not forget the basics: Americans still need affordable, fast access to doctors. By steamrolling too much change at one time, the risk is that basic needs will go unmet amid reforms that aren’t widely understood and that ultimately will result in patient care determined by government-approved treatment plans.
It is important that average Americans be aware of what’s happening, and what’s at stake, while there is still time to preserve stability in our current healthcare system as it transitions to high technology.
A major problem is that too much of healthcare reform is being planned and executed in a vacuum – apart from important considerations such as thepotential for mass retirements of aging doctors, potentially leading to severe shortages and longer wait times for patients, all at a time of increased demand on the system due to aging baby boomers. Curiously, doctors must focus now on entering patient data into electronic devices, when by the federal government’s own timetable, the necessary technology to accomplish healthcare reform won’t be in place until 2024.
Through Dec. 15, federal regulators will accept public comments on the next set of rules that will shape the future of medicine in the transition to a super information highway for
Electronic Health Records (EHRs). For health providers, this is a time to speak out.
One idea: Why not suggest options to give leniency to older doctors struggling with the shift to technology late in their careers?
Meanwhile, doctors are reporting data while the infrastructure for sharing it doesn’t exist. Now, for the first time, physicians will be reporting to the federal government on progress toward uniform objectives for the meaningful use of electronic health records. Those who meet requirements will be eligible for incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid, while those who don’t may face penalties. In addition, audits are expected to begin in 2016.