By Diane Evans, Publisher, MyHIPAA Guide – Nov. 10, 2015
Through Dec. 15, federal regulators will accept public comments on the next set of rules that will shape the future of medicine in the transition to a super information highway for Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Doctors, this is your time to speak up.
One idea: Why not suggest options to give leniency to older doctors struggling with the shift to technology late in their careers?
By the government's own estimate, the migration to a fully functioning EHR system, for the cross-sharing of health records among providers, will take until 2024 to materialize.
While the future is being worked out, the nation needs older doctors to keep practicing to meet the needs of an aging population, as well as an expanded Medicaid system. Last year, the New York Times reported on long wait times for a doctor appointment as a new norm. The article pointed to one study that found patients waiting an average of 66 days for a physical examination in Boston, and 32 days for a cardiologist appointment in Washington.
Think of what the wait times would be if mass retirements materialized, as suggested by findings of a 2014 survey of 20,000 physicians by The Physicians Foundation. Thirty-nine percent indicated plans to accelerate retirement due to changes in the healthcare system.
The potential for disruption is even more startling when you consider the number of older doctors in practice. According to R. Jan Gurley, MD, writing on the blog of USC's Center for Health Journalism, one in three doctors is over 50, and one in four is over 60 - despite roughly 20,000 newly medical school graduates a year.
Because of what's at stake -- the very stability of our nation's healthcare system -- health providers should seize the opportunity to speak out forcefully during the government’s open comment period. Yes, it is late in the rulemaking game for EHRs.
But would an outpouring of thoughtful, well-documented recommendations make a difference? In a democracy, the answer should be yes.
For those who would like access to a virtual forum to share ideas and plan comments, the newly launched MyHIPPAGuide.com news and information service will host such discussions at www.myhipaaguide.com. Those subscribing through Dec. 15 may use the promo code “grandfather” for a $30 discount off an annual subscription price of $279. In addition to the forums, you will have easy, anytime access to 40+ tutorials, videos and other tools to guide you through a 10-step plan to HIPAA compliance. These include:
- Templates of Patient Privacy Notices to help achieve meaningful consent, available both in English and Spanish
- Short videos that capture the essence of a risk assessment
- Self-evaluation tools to help guide organizations large and small
- Sample provisions for Business Associate Agreements (BAA)
- Guides that address specific issues, such as recommendations for safely reporting patient test results
- Risk analysis tools, with both Windows and iPad versions
Plus, you will receive regular news -- and explanations -- on changing compliance rules. Importantly, your subscription supports quality reporting and commentary on compliance issues mainly outside the purview of mass media organizations.
So, let's start talking! In a tip sheet, regulations.gov says that “a constructive, information-rich comment that clearly communicates and supports its claims is more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision making.”
The tip sheet notes you should support your claims, and that you may ask questions if you need more information. There is no minimum or maximum length for comments..