AMA supports health IT adoption in doctor’s offices; calls for increased security of patient data and funding assistance

The American Medical Association (AMA) today expressed support for advancing health information technology (HIT) in physician offices, while urging Congress to make privacy and security of patient information a top priority and called for funding assistance to implement HIT into physician practices. The AMA submitted its stance in a statement to the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Regulations, Healthcare and Trade.
“We share the widespread optimism over the promise that HIT holds for transforming patient care if properly developed and carefully integrated into the existing health care delivery system,” said William G. Plested, MD, AMA President. “If carefully structured, HIT has the potential to raise the overall quality and safety of patient care.”
Protecting patients’ privacy and security is a top concern of physicians, and the AMA encourages Congress to make those issues a top priority when creating an HIT infrastructure
“Safeguarding the privacy and confidentiality of patient information is a professional responsibility that physicians take very seriously,” said Dr. Plested. “When a patient’s private and sensitive health care information can be made public with the touch of a button, it is imperative that adequate privacy and security standards and protections be developed.”
A common barrier to HIT implementation in physician practices, especially smaller practices, is the significant cost. The AMA strongly urges Congress to consider direct means to assist physicians, such as grants, low-interest loans, increased reimbursement for the use of HIT, accelerated depreciation for HIT investments, tax credits, and other economic incentives. A study by Robert H. Miller found that initial electronic health record costs were approximately $44,000 per physician with ongoing costs of about $8,500 annually. A report by the Congressional Research Service estimates similar per physician cost, with HIT start-up costs ranging from $16,000 to $36,000.
{This strong public statement to Congress by the nation’s leading professional organization of physicians is very welcome support for consumers’ medical privacy rights. Patient Privacy Rights has been keeping the AMA’s legal and legislative team informed about the need for privacy in the electronic health systems and the great importance of privacy to consumers (i.e. “privacy” means patient control of access to personal health information). The AMA is aware that the California Medical Association and the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons signed our Coalition letters to Congress last year urging that basic privacy protections be added to the health information technology bills. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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