Physician advocates key for achieving MU, says Kansas CMIO

One of the greatest boons on the journey toward achieving meaningful use is having physicians champion health IT, according to Greg Ator, MD, chief medical informatics officer for the University of Kansas Hospital, an academic medical center based in Kansas City.

In an exclusive interview, Ator told Healthcare IT News the hospital pays 20 physicians to be physician informaticists, assisting their peers through the entire health IT transition.

"Its a journey," Ator said, noting that change takes place with doctor-to-doctor interaction, with some physicians embracing HIT adoption right away and others pushing back at first.

[See also: Mostashari to providers: MU is not about 'hoop jumping'.]

According to Ator, the hospital has paid for the physician informaticists to take short courses on healthcare IT. “We’re trying to get them beyond `I like EMRs and I can support their use,’ to being aware of the informatics concepts involved,” he said.

The University of Kansas Hospital is planning to attest to meaningful use shortly, Ator said. In June, the hospital went live with 240 evidence-based order sets with Zynx Health’s computerized provider order entry (CPOE), deployed via Epic's EHR system.

"It's not just about having evidence, doctors need to perform to the evidence," Ator said. "Accountability is important, but more important are accountable individuals and how they interact and operationalize."

"People see meaningful use as just another government program with negative connotations, Ator said. "We’ve rebranded meaningful use to 'meaningful outcomes.'"

Convincing doctors of the power of health IT

"We aren't simply selling EMRs to the doctors," said Ator. "With meaningful use, we're  bringing up the concept that you need to be using all the power of the system."

 Take the problem lists, for example, Ator said. They help provide better care and better outcomes. When viewed from this perspective, it helps the doctors to not focus so much on the number of clicks they're required to make on their computer.

"We're trying to have conversations around [meaningful use] and do it in a workflow cognizant fashion," he added. "We're trying to hold people accountable."