An Office of theNational Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) was establishedby the same legislation that set up the incentives and penalties for theadoption of EHR technology, and this body is charged with determining thecertification standards and testing procedures for the various EHR systems tobe designated as “certified EHR technology,” although the final nod of approvalneeds to come from the CMS.6  

Partneringbetween physicians and their professional societies must occur for healthcareto advance and succeed in creating a new ecosystem that includes providers,patients, and payers. This is known as “meaningful use.” The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has defined fivegoals, which have been adopted by ONCHIT, for this partnership in order to improve the quality of care and to create a moreefficient healthcare system: 7

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  • Improve quality, safety, and efficacy of patient care
  • Engage patients and families
  • Improve coordination of care
  • Improve public health
  • Ensure privacy and security of personal information

The results of one study, which was conducted in 10 outpatient clinics, concluded that EHR had a positiveimpact on the oncologists’ clinic time.8 In addition, Brockstein and colleaguesreported on the experience of 14 oncologyhealthcare providers working in the outpatient practice setting with EHR, and concludedthat chemotherapyordering was safer, legibility errors had disappeared, and patient records wereeasily available, all of which contribute to a positive impact on patient care.9  

The majority of oncologists currently inoutpatient practice across the United States have not yet installed an EHRsystem.  Gena Cook, CEO of Navigating Cancer, a web-based company dedicated to oncology services, is citedin an article by Daniel Denvir as saying that this is a part of healthcare,“where the train has already left the station.” Ms. Cook notes that it isbetter to reap the incentives than get hit with penalties later.10  

Mostexperts in the field recommend that the oncologist choose an EHR which isoncology‑specific. The oncologist needsa full suite of features such as staging of tumors, data-intensive workflows,features for chemotherapy dosing and administration, assessment of toxicity,management of clinical trials, and tracking of drug inventories.11 The oncology-specific EHR system makes it easier toanalyze and research clinical outcomes, enroll patients into clinicaltrials, improve the billing process, and deliver quality of care.12

User feedback specificto oncology EHR systems is also available in summary and in database formatfrom KLAS Research, headquartered in Orem, UT. This is a database that isupdated daily.13 In addition, when thechoice of system is made, the ability to integrate with other systems isimportant, and a test drive (made available to oncologists at annual meetingsof the American Society of Clinical Oncologists) can be very helpful. It is stronglyrecommended thatoncology specialists seek references and recommendations for the systems theypurchase not just from colleagues at multispecialty practices, but even moreimportantly, from oncology specialists. “You should absolutely ask for references from practitioners withsimilar needs,” emphasizes Monique Rasband, Director of Research for Oncology,KLAS Research.  “I often hear,‘we have references frommultispecialty groups and they loved it, but we bought it and it doesn’t serveour purposes.”