(WBIR-Kingston) Practitioners have less than a month to meet new standards under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
However, some East Tennessee private practices are choosing to leave the business instead.
Dr. Robert Parker of Parker Family Eyecare in Kingston will close his private practice by the end of the month. He spent three years at the Race Street location.
Parker said it is too burdensome to meet the new federal requirements.
"It became pretty obvious to me that the better choice was not to continue," Parker said.
The ACA requires practices to use electronic health records; Parker's practice uses paper.
According to the Obama administration it will cut costs, reduce medical errors, and make it easier to share a patient's information between doctors.
"For a private person to try to take on all those things and to take care of the patients, I think that's going to be a little too much," Parker said.
Parker said the upgrade has cost some practices as much as $80,000, as well as the need to hire more staff. The government has provided some funds for the transition to those who meet federal requirements.
"If you don't have a scribe or someone who can input it into the computer while you're seeing the patient, you will find yourself doing a lot of inputting instead of listening to the patient and taking care of the patient. I've already had some doctors tell me that's a problem," he said.
With electronic records, comes stricter enforcement of HIPAA regulations, including audits.
Parker knows of at least two East Tennessee medical doctors choosing to close their practices; he believes private practices will one day be nonexistent.
"When they lose that local person that they've gone to for years and has watched their families grow up, you lose a lot of continuity of the care," Parker said.
Starting in January 2014, doctors who do not use the electronic system could face penalties.