For the past two years the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has run the DOQ-IT program to help physicians adopt electronic medical records. The program started in Arkansas, California, Massachusetts and Utah and is now being expanded to all 50 states.
I’m not exactly sure why the program is being expanded. The only people I’ve met who are enthusiastic –at least in Massachusetts– are the people from the local Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) running it. The program provides free consulting to doctors and although it can’t officially negotiate prices with vendors, in effect it does. The problem from the physicians’ standpoint is that DOQ-IT doesn’t subsidize the cost of the hardware, software, or service, and provides only minimal implementation support. In addition, physicians are wary because in exchange for accepting DOQ-IT services they have to upload their clinical data to the QIO for quality evaluation.
Karen Bell, who is in charge of the program for CMS told Government Computer News
CMS, over time, will demonstrate [that] actual improvement in medical care has occurred because of health IT.
She’s probably right, but I’d suggest demonstrating real improvement in the four states before scaling the program up.September 14, 2005