Electronic Medical Records


As a cornerstone of health information technology, the electronic medical record (EMR) is a critical tool for improving patient health and health care delivery through the Patient Centered Medical Home model.

The AAFP has consistently endorsed industry and governmental initiatives designed to assist family physicians in the development and implementation of EMRs and related information technologies while improving patient care. We’ve helped family physicians pursue a wide range of federal and state grant programs that support informatics at the point of care, and we have been strong supporters of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, also known as the Meaningful Use program.

The Meaningful Use program is a six-year, three-stage initiative that relies on financial incentives and penalties to stimulate the “meaningful use” of EHR capabilities by physicians and other providers. The program’s long-term objective is to foster universal health data reporting and connectivity to improve care coordination, disease management, and a host of other clinical processes, as well as to strengthen reporting of patient outcomes data and other public health information.

As meaningful use of EMRs evolves -- and new federal and state initiatives emerge -- AAFP will continue to track these programs closely to ensure that they are grounded in realistic expectations and reflect the practical realities facing the family physician community.

Some of our recent efforts critical to EMRs include:

  • Pushing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to delay Stage 3 meaningful use requirements until at least 2017, and to delay or eliminate the program’s penalty provisions;
  • Offering support of the Institute of Medicine’s proposal to initiate continuous assessment and improvement studies aimed to improve the quality of health care. THe AAFP provided detailed recommendations regarding the IOM plan with respect to care measurement, clinician training, timelines and potential barriers;
  • Providing extensive recommendations regarding proposed changes in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Widespread use of EMR technology promises to transform both the delivery of care and the development of public health initiatives. As HIT implementation progress, the AAFP will continue to serve family physicians by offering practical guidance to health care providers, as well as key recommendations to regulators and policymakers.

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