Electronic Health 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.

Past AAFP efforts critical to EMRs include:

  • Urging 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).

Additionally, AAFP endorses the Further Flexibility in HIT Reporting and Advancing Interoperability Act (H.R. 3309), which is sponsored by Rep. Renee Elmers (NC). This legislation would allow for more flexibility in implementing the Meaningful Use program, as well as include hardship exceptions for physicians who are being met with challenges. H.R. 3309 also delays the deadline for implementation of Stage 3 of the program, which will benefit physicians as approximately only 10 percent of eligible physicians have successfully achieved Stage 2.

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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