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James L. Holly, MD
CEO, Southeast Texas Medical Associates, Beaumont, TX
The intimidating ramp up: There is a potential hazard for discouraging people because they have not started. It could have been much easier. The first two years could have been a lower threshold with a rapid ramp-up in the third, fourth, and fifth years—as opposed to what it presently is: a fairly significant first-year ramp-up.
Building patient engagement: Those who want to turn meaningful use into a marketable product are going to have to deal with some of the more complex issues—such as plans of care, transitions of care—that require documents to be delivered to the patient that are patient-centric and specific to the individual patient. We have to have a means for transferring responsibility of care to the patient. When you establish a continuum of care, that is when meaningful use becomes meaningful to the patient.
Incremental steps to improvement: Our goal is to be better next year than this year. Meaningful use creates somewhat of a competition, but it should not deter people from getting started. If they can't meet meaningful use to gain the financial benefit, they should start nonetheless because ultimately it is the future and they are going to have to do it. The only option is to stop practicing medicine, which for most of us is part of our DNA. Get started. That is the first thing. I've started lots of things that I've never finished, but I never finished anything I didn't start.
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