The recently passed HITECH legislation by the government requiring physicians to move from paper based medical records to Electronic Medical Records (EMR) has a not so distant cousin that was forged with equal intentions-forced control. A little history:
1933: The National Recovery Administration was formed as an administrative mechanism for the National Industrial Recovery Act resulting in more than 500 codes and requirements and “generated more paper than the entire legislative output of the federal government since 1789″. Businesses were asked to display a Blue Eagle to show their compliance. Failure to do so resulted in fines and…imprisonment. The head of the administration at the time commented “May God have mercy on the man or group of men who attempt to trifle with this bird”.
Now consider HITECH, meaningful use EMR, incentives and penalties for noncompliance. Have doctors been pressed into conformity by the government in it’s quest for control? Is CCHIT EHR certification nothing more than a modern day Blue Eagle? Is it a doctor’s duty as a employer and caregiver to stay up late at night and read the thousands of pages of fine print regarding ARRA, HITECH and meaningful use requirements?
The similarities of 1933 and 2009 are striking. The outcome is uncertain. HITECH is well intentioned. Is it well thought out? Sadly, 60% of physicians have no idea what the HITECH initiative requires, or why.