Nancy Adams is Executive Director of the Monroe County Medical Society and New York Chapter 1 of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She was honored last month with the AMA’s Medical Executive Lifetime Achievement Award for her more than 15 years of dedication to improving the lives of physicians.
How have you seen technology transform healthcare delivery in the physician practice setting over the last 10 to 15 years? Do you think we’re on the right track as far as interoperability is concerned, or woefully behind where we need to be?
Technology has significantly changed the practice of medicine. Through the use of Regional Health Information Organizations, the availability of lab tests and imaging results has improved care, created efficiencies and reduced duplication of services. EHRs have proved to be more challenging. Interoperability? How about achieving operability first? Physicians are reporting significant challenges in terms of EHR usability. Addressing the issue of operability will be a focus for MCMS in 2015.
You created a $3.1 million grant-funded EHR service bureau to support local medical practices with the purchase and implementation of HIT, and a New York State e-Collaborative Regional Extension Center grant to assist clinicians with requirements for participating in Meaningful Use. Why do physicians still need services such as these, and why did you personally feel the need to step up and create them?
Through a grant provided to our local RHIO by NYS and the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, MCMS was able to assist practices with EHR adoption. The grant provided financial support for the purchase of the EHR system, and MCMS provided technical support to help the practices achieve successful adoption of the EHR. I personally felt this service was sorely needed as most practices do not have the technical expertise to make an informed decision about purchase, nor do they have the change management expertise to move from paper records to EHR.
How have these projects been received by the colleagues you are trying to serve? What are the goals for each initiative?
The projects have been well-received, especially when we were handing out checks! Physicians truly appreciated the financial and technical support. Goals for the EHR project were to successfully implement EHR systems into 65 practices. The Regional Extension Center work is focused on assisting the physicians with achieving MU requirements.
What other HIT projects are you currently involved with?
As I mentioned before, MCMS will focus on usability of EHRs in 2015. Very little is being done to address this issue. In addition, we continue to work on policies and principles related to sharing health information electronically. I have a personal interest in protecting a minor’s right to confidentiality in the electronic world, and am privileged to work with our local RHIO on this issue.
What are your thoughts on recent trade group calls to overhaul MU to refocus it solely on interoperability? If you had your way, how would you reinvigorate this program for the benefit of providers and patients?
We are hearing loud and clear from our physicians that Meaningful Use lacks meaning. I couldn’t agree more that the program needs an overhaul. If I had my way, physicians and other actual users would have significant input into the program.