Clinicians’ focus should remain on patients, not technology

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services have made significant progress in the nationwide adoption of healthcare IT such as medical informatics systems in the past three years. However, according to a recent opinion piece published in American Medical News, clinicians’ focus should remain on their patients, not new technology.

Robert Wah, chairman of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, wrote that although medical informatics technology has changed the way that doctors treat their patients, clinicians should remember that caring for the sick is their primary concern, not meeting deadlines for healthcare IT adoption, such as the CMS’ meaningful use incentive program.

“One of the primary things I have recognized across all these changes is that it is most important that we see information technology as another tool that helps doctors take better care of our patients,” Wah said. “It is not about the technology itself, nor is health IT a technology ‘project,’ it is about taking full advantage of these new capabilities and using them to achieve better, more effective and cost-efficient patient care.”

In the article, Wah outlined his experience of changing patient care during the past 20 years. He explained how e-prescribing in particular revolutionized the way he dispensed medication prescriptions in his clinical practice, and how medical informatics technology has the capacity to provide patients with increasingly focused care.

However, Wah’s message of patient-centric care may be more challenging for physicians to bear in mind. According to Information Week, the transition to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision codebase, stage two of the CMS’ meaningful use federal financial incentive program and a heightened focus on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act could place doctors and healthcare IT personnel under additional pressure this year.

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