Thursday, December 5, 2013
(Continued from page 1)
The Department of Veterans Affairs is often criticized, but it deserves praise for its award-winning electronic health records system. Deployed in the late 1990s, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, known as VistA, is an integrated inpatient/outpatient, pharmacy and data management program. By some estimates, more than 60 percent of U.S. physicians have used VistA during their training.
Had information-technology companies been incentivized to make VistA compatible with billing systems, our country might have an efficient and robust clinical system that practitioners nationwide would know how to use. The only potential downside: fewer government dollars for tech companies and their consultants.
The federal government's Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology should declare a moratorium on the implementation of electronic health records programs and review where things stand, with the goal of implementing a uniform, user-friendly system. Broad adoption of an upgraded version of VistA might do wonders.
Ideally, electronic health records would provide doctors with instant access to information and help patients track their medical histories. Such records should be a giant step forward in continuity and comprehensiveness of care. So far, the "cures" are worse than the disease.
Dan Morhaim is a physician and, as a Democrat, represents Baltimore County in the Maryland House of Delegates. This column was distributed by The Washington Post, where it first appeared.