ACP releases lawmaking proposal to encourage the adoption of healthcare IT

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The American College of Physicians (ACP) got in on the healthcare IT act this week, too, releasing a legislative proposal to facilitate the adoption of health information technology (HIT) in small physician practices.

ACP said healthcare in America could greatly benefit from increased use of HIT - i.e. electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical decision support software - through improved patient care, reduction in medical errors, higher efficiency and potential long run cost-savings.

The ACP legislative proposal seeks to increase the adoption of HIT by all physician practices, but with special attention to helping smaller practices through various financial incentives and pilot testing of the standards in small practice settings. Today, the adoption of HIT in small physician practices is hindered by problems such as staffing shortages and costs (an EHR costs approximately $30,000 per physician) combined with the expense for transferring patient records and maintaining the system.

Some of the reimbursement reforms advocated by ACP include separate payment for clinically appropriate e-mail and telephone consultations, add-on payments for office visits supported by EHRs and reimbursement care management services supported by IT.

Current Medicare payment policies act as a disincentive for physicians to acquire and use HIT, ACP said.