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By M.L. Baker  |  Posted 2004-10-28 Print this article Print

However, said Quinn, the report challenged the governments stance that a national patient identifier should not be used, concluding that it should at least be considered. "Its not so much that we need an identifier; we need a way to be sure that we know that the information is about who were dealing with and that its all of the information," he said. The option of a national patient identifier should stay on the table until some other identification system could demonstrate that it was just as accurate.
The survey recommended that consistent definitions for EHRs be established and that the industry should be informed of the specific functions necessary to meet the governments vision. That way, the government can make sure that any physicians stepping up to claim rewards for using an EHR are actually using them.
EHRs still need to expand their reach into more clinical departments such as surgery management, radiology, and ambulatory and emergency care. In particular, the systems should expand to cover other hospitals in an area as well as affiliated physician offices and local health departments. Specific suggestions in the report were as follows:
  • develop uniform technology standards for interoperability, data input and format, and data exchange;
  • provide financial incentives and support by providing tax credits, grants and other subsidies and by allowing health systems to give away technology to physicians;
  • mandate compliance and require implementation within a certain time frame;
  • educate physicians and the public about the best ways to implement EHRs and the benefits of doing so; and
  • establish a formal government role and infrastructure and provide oversight.
Check out eWEEK.coms Health Care Center for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on health care.

Monya Baker is co-editor of's Health Care Center. She has written for publications including the journal Nature Biotechnology, the Acumen Journal of Sciences and the American Medical Writers Association, among others, and has worked as a consultant with biotechnology companies. A former high school science teacher, Baker holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Carleton College and a master's of education from Harvard.

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