May 2009 MedBytes: Health Information Technology

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Tex Med . 2009;105(5):52.  

The economic stimulus legislation contains $19 billion for the adoption and use of health information technology (HIT) systems by physicians. With incentives in place for Medicare- and Medicaid-participating physicians, it pays to learn more about electronic medical records. These Web sites will assist in learning more about HIT and implementing the right technology.

Texas Medical Association
To learn more about HIT and topics related to implementing new systems in your practice, such as interoperability, electronic medical record (EMR) selection, financing, vendors, and a readiness assessment, click  here. Organized by topic, the HIT section is straightforward and painless when it comes to navigating. Simply click on a corresponding link to be directed to useful reports, guidelines, Web sites, lists, and articles. Resources include TMA's  EMR Implementation Guide, which offers up to 3 hours of continuing medical education credit and a comparison guide to aid physicians in shopping for an EMR system. The site also features case studies with firsthand accounts from physicians who have adopted HIT systems. Plus, click on the  TMA Practice Consulting link for information about obtaining a practice assessment and workflow analysis to start on the path to implementing an EMR.

American Medical Association
An explanation of HIT and privacy provisions in the economic stimulus bill is on the  American Medical Association Web site. Select  Solutions for Managing Your Practice  under the Physician Resources tab. The AMA's resources for HIT include information on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) e-prescribing incentive program; a guide to the cost, technical analysis, workflow analysis, and cultural change involved in adopting an EMR system; risks and benefits associated with HIT; and the ins and outs of vendor assessment. Informative PDFs include A Clinician's Guide to Electronic Prescribing, Physician Perception of Electronic Prescribing, Top EMR Contract Questions, and Health Information Technology Donations: A Guide for Physicians.

American Academy of Family Physicians
A colorful step-by-step EMR guide takes physicians through the preparation, selection, implementation, and maintenance processes in adopting a system on the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)  Center for Health Information Technology  home page. Family physicians and other health care practitioners will find a concentrated outline of information on medical office information technology. Getting started, finding the right EMR, implementing a system, and ensuring viability are open to all users. The  CME & Learning  tab directs visitors to a podcast worth continuing medical education credit that covers the reasons for implementing an EMR system, the implementation process, a needs assessment, and hardware and software considerations. On this site, membership comes with privileges: You must be an AAFP member to access the physician product reviews, readiness assessment, EMR e-mail discussion list, and other tools.

eHealth Initiative
The  eHealth Initiative Web site is chock-full of resources health organizations, clinicians, and physician groups can draw on in their quest to embrace technology and transform how they record medical data. From the home page, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the eHealth Initiative by clicking on the About tab. Links will guide you through the group's mission, leadership, members, and other general information. Next, explore the site's  Connecting Communities for Drug Safety Collaboration toolkit. Registration to use the toolkit is free, and you can participate in modules that cover getting started, implementation, legal and privacy guidance, engaging the public, and additional resources.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
For a comprehensive overview of the strategies, offices, and policies involved in development and adoption of HIT at the federal level, visit the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Web site. Click on the  Health IT Certification  tab for information on ensuring that health care professionals purchase systems that function properly, securely, and in an interoperable manner. The  Privacy & Security  portion of the site features information on protecting individually identifiable health information. Select  Nationwide Health Information Network  to learn more about national efforts to provide a secure, interoperable health information infrastructure that will connect physicians and consumers.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to Texas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, email  Crystal Conde . Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.  



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