DOQ-IT off and running

By Bernie Monegain
12:00 AM
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California doctors – and doctors in other parts of the country – are responding enthusiastically to a project designed to encourage the adoption of electronic health records in their medical practices.

DOQ-IT, or Doctors' Office Quality-Information Technology Project, is funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The project aims to find the best ways to promote the use of electronic health records.

The California effort was designed to serve as a model for similar initiatives in other states. DOQ-IT projects are also under way in Utah, Arkansas, and Massachusetts.

It may turn out that doctors in different parts of the country respond better to an approach tailored specifically for them, leaders of the project said.

In California, a workshop in the southern part of the state proved so popular that doctors in the northern part of the state lobbied for one of their own.

Anthony Linares, MD, was happy to oblige. Linares is medical director of quality improvement at Lumetra, which is leading the nationwide DOQ-IT effort with the American Academy of Family Physicians' Center for Health Information Technology. Based in San Francisco, Lumetra is the largest quality improvement organization in the country.

The idea is to involve 200 small practices in each state.

In Utah, that might prove more challenging than in California, said Sharon Donnelly, who is leading the project there. In California 200 practices might represent about 4 percent of all small practices that DOQ-IT aims to target. In Utah, 200 practices make up about 80 percent of all the small practices in the state.

So instead of organizing open meetings like Linares and his team are doing in California, the Utah team is setting up meetings with individual practices or a cluster of practices that might have some of the same issues in common.

"It's much more targeted, much more consultative," Donnelly said.

Donnelly said her group is working with the Utah Medical Association and the University of Utah, which has a strong informatics program.

In Arkansas, DOQ-IT manager Nancy Archer said her group is still recruiting via journal articles, mass mailings, exhibits and site visits. So far, 79 medical practices have applied to participate in the program and many more have inquired about it, she said.

The next phase is to conduct needs assessments with the practices that want to participate.