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All Things HIT

Nov 1 2011   1:21PM GMT

Limiting EHR risk is great, but can I get a discount?

Posted by: AllinHIT
CMS, Compliance, EHR, electronic health record, Liability, Medicare, Rep. Tom Marino, Safeguarding Access for Every Medicare Patient Act

I will never forget a discussion I had with a physician about using the e-prescribe “refill status” to monitor medication compliance with her chronic disease patient population.  The doctor made it clear that she did not want this feature “turned on” with the practice’s existing e-prescribing module.  I asked the doctor “why?” and was told that having this information, and not addressing it when a patient is non-compliant, could negatively impact them during a lawsuit. 

It was the first time I asked myself, “does technology increase the risk of lawsuits, or does technology help guard against it?”  Although I can debate whether it does, doesn’t, or that it does both, I would rather consider the discussion to be moot.  However, it was “top of mind” for some caregivers, so it deserved debating.  And now, with the new legislation proposed by Representative Tom Marino (R-Pa.), maybe this will be a moot point!  The legislation can possibly save liability insurers alot of money!  However, wouldn’t it be nice if EHR use not only limited lawsuits, but also it lowered premiums for the physicians?   

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) has introduced, The Safeguarding Access for Every Medicare Patient Act , which would grant some legal protection to CMS providers if an adverse event occurs, as a result of EHR errors.  The Act would also allow for these errors to be reported without retaliation and places time limits on the filing of lawsuits.  We all know that EHR adoption and usage will eventually be an analytic data trove for developing care plans, benchmarks, and possibly new rountines of care.  The benefits to patient care can be enormous, so physicians should be able to utilize these systems, and that analytic data without fearing legal backlash. 

Not only should physicians avoid legal backlash for using these systems, they should get a discount on their liability insurance for doing so!  If using these systems are going to limit lawsuits, insurers and other tort reform advocates will be elated.  However, where is the financial benefit for the physician?  As I have said in a previous blog, I propose insurers give a discount to physicians for using EHR’s, it only makes sense considering this Safeguard !

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