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Physician Investment in IT, Accountable Care, Needed for Reform

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, August 24, 2010

While issues such as permanently fixing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula have disappointed physicians, it still would be in their best interest to support the many provisions of the Affordable Care Act as they work at the practice of medicine, several White House officials write in the latest issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine released Monday.

No one is "more disappointed" than President Obama "who has made it clear" in a statement that he is "committed to permanently reforming this Medicare formula in a way that balances fiscal responsibility with the responsibility we have to doctors and seniors," write the authors who include Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the Office of Health Reform and counselor to the President, and Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, the special advisor on health policy with the Office of Management and Budget.

The uncertainty surrounding the SGR policy is "a distraction and potentially a barrier for some physicians to embrace the Affordable Care Act," but physicians should not let their frustration over it "distract them from the improvements that healthcare reform delivers to their patients and the profession," they said.

By removing barriers, the new healthcare reform act will provide physicians with the opportunity "to evolve the way that they deliver care," officials said. This will give them appropriate incentives to focus on coordinating care "so that patients get the prevention they need, and those with chronic conditions avoid complications."

"Delivering on the promise of reform will require the full engagement of physicians," they added. The Affordable Care Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, they predicted, will likely to affect the practice of medicine in a number of ways including:

  • Focusing care around "exceptional patient experience and shared clinical outcome goals."
  • Expanding the use of electronic health records with capacity for drug reconciliation, guidelines, alerts, and other decision supports.
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