The president is calling for every American to have an electronic medical record by 2014. It is an ambitious goal.
"That won't happen," says John Glaser, who as an adviser to the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology (ONC) helped to develop the meaningful use regulations and grant programs that are designed to spur adoption of EHRs.
The adoption rate "very well could be at 50 percent" in five years, says Glaser, chief information officer of Partners HealthCare, the largest healthcare provider in Massachusetts and one of the largest health IT organizations in New England. Glaser made his remarks during an interview published by Xconomy, which chronicles high-tech economy trends
Despite carping by healthcare providers about the difficulty of meeting meaningful use standards, Glaser predicts that they will adopt electronic records. Today's choice could become tomorrow's imperative. Already, Massachusetts is looking at making meaningful use of EHRs a requirement for obtaining a license to practice medicine.
Glaser also suggests that ONC intentionally erred on the side of caution when it "set the bar for qualifying high" and that it very well could relax meaningful use standards.
"It's better to start high and back off than start low," says Glaser. "They'll just force you lower no matter where you start."
No one knows what percentage of doctors will be meaningful users in two years, but Glaser is sure that the transition will be bumpy and that some health information exchanges won't work.
"Some states will screw it up," he says. "We're going to go through a hell of a lot of change in healthcare IT in a relatively short period of time."