Groups promote e-records for doctors

The American Health Quality Association

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A federally funded program in four states is trying to speed up the adoption of electronic health records by small and medium-sized physicians' offices.

Funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, officials from private groups called quality improvement organizations (QIO) will conduct a two-year pilot in four states -- California, Arkansas, Massachusetts and Utah -- under the Doctors' Office Quality-Information Technology (DOQ-IT) project.

These private groups will try to educate physicians about the advantages of using electronic health records to manage and improve care, evaluate the risks and rewards of IT, assess how physicians use IT to improve care and office management and help re-engineer their business processes to effectively use technology.

"QIO assistance is not just about technology training; it is about major change management with a focus on improving quality, patient safety and efficiency," said David Schulke, executive vice president of the American Health Quality Association, in a press release. The AHQA represents the national network of QIOs.

More physicians are using electronic health records for managing data, ordering tests and medications electronically to reduce errors, employing electronic clinical decision support tools, and automatically generating reminders for immunizations, screenings, and tests. But cost and a lack of expertise in implementing and using IT have been barriers to wider use.

Project officials hope to use electronic health record systems to provide doctors with data on the quality and results of their care.

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