03 Aug Medicare to modify EHR software for private physicians
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan to officially release a modified version of the electronic medical record software Vista within the next few weeks, according to news accounts by FCW Media Group and The New York Times.
CMS officials hope that providing the new program, known as Vista-Office, will promote and increase the use of electronic health records by private clinicians.
Vista, a software program used for the past 20 years by physicians and clinics in the Department of Veterans Affairs, has been modified by the CMS for easier use and fewer steps to installation.
Although the software will be offered to physicians for free, there are some implementation costs. Gary Carr, a spokesperson for CMS, told Health-IT World that private medical practices will have to pay a licensing fee of $2,700 a year; and The New York Times reported that an entire medical practice would pay between $10,000 and $12,000 for implementation.
Physicians interviewed claimed that while CMS’s support could make a difference, the new system does not guarantee that EHRs would be in every hospital soon. Vista can be complicated to use – one physician told the Times it took him six months to learn how to make it work – and some doctors cannot spare the time and money to establish it.
Dr. Alan Garber, an economist and internist at Stanford University, told the Times that while Medicare’s investment in this technology are a good sign for doctors that EMRs are feasible, it doesn’t fully dismiss the risks “a doctor in a small office” would take in installing it.