Certification Boards Endorse EHRs

Two large medical certification boards declared on Thursday their intention to make physicians' use of health information technology a standard by which those boards will assess and certify the competency of doctors.

Two large medical certification boards declared on Thursday their intention to make physicians' use of health information technology a standard for assessing and certifying the competency of doctors.

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) announced an initiative "to promote the meaningful use of health information technology (HIT) and incorporate them into [its] Maintenance of Certification program," according to the board's new release. The certification program was created "to promote lifelong learning and self assessment for physician specialists."

The ABMS noted that federal meaningful use standards for electronic health records overlap with the six core competencies that are continually measured through the board's maintenance of certification program: patient care, medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communications skills, professionalism and systems-based practice.

The board certifies more than 750,000 physicians in the United States.

Meanwhile, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) recognized that "widespread adoption of electronic health records could be used by doctors to both improve patient outcomes and assess ongoing clinical competence for purposes of medical licensure," the board said in a prepared statement.

Humayun Chaudhry, president and CEO of FSMB, anticipates physicians' using "electronic health records as a tool to assess ongoing clinical competence for medical licensure."

The boards' endorsements provide another impetus for doctors to adopt electronic medical records. Until now, the question of adoption has revolved around federal financial incentives--worth billions of dollars--that seek to entice doctors and hospitals to use health information technology in a meaningful way. Linking adoption to licensure moves the debate's focus from cost to competence.

"We believe the time for waiting is over," David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology, said on Thursday. "EHR adoption and meaningful use hold the promise of safer, higher-quality care for patients. They will enable health care professionals to serve with greater effectiveness and confidence. They will enhance public health and make more cost-effective use of our nation's unparalleled health care resources."

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