Will NHIN cause EMRs and health IT systems to become another government entitlement program?

In a routine visit to my primary care (PC) doc last week I was noticing how his office worked versus how one of my specialists’ (GI) office worked. In my specialist’s office they were computerized both in the front office as well as in clinical workflow using EMR software. So, I asked my PC doc about when they might start using an EMR since they were already using billing software in their front office. Expecting an answer like “we can’t afford it yet” or “it might impact how we do business” I got the surprising answer “when the government pays for it.”

Now, I was surprised because most docs (especially independent ones) don’t strike me as those looking for government handouts or having an entitlement program created for them but I wondered is this what docs are expecting from NHIN? As we all know the Bush Administration funded last year the National Health Information Network (NHIN) to help moving along electronic adoption of medical records. And, in 2006 it is expected to get more money because the Bush camp is looking for “small wins” next year.

So, does this mean that NHIN is a new entitlement program for doctors? Is that the way most physicians see NHIN? To me NHIN, RHIOs, etc are nothing more than a dream (albeit a good one) for the forseeable future. But, it seems at least to some physicians that it will be a reality and they should just wait for the government to help them out.

Seems like a recipe for disaster. What do you think?


Shahid N. Shah

Shahid Shah is an internationally recognized enterprise software guru that specializes in digital health with an emphasis on e-health, EHR/EMR, big data, iOT, data interoperability, med device connectivity, and bioinformatics.