Many physicians and and medical professionals remain confused (if not completely unaware) that the HITECH Act calls for doctors to use Electronic Medical Records EMR to accomplish healthcare initiatives. Let’s clear up some confussion as quickly as possible. Consider these eight points to get your footing on what is required and available in making the move from paper medical records to Electronic Health Records:
1. The EMR/EHR system must demonstrate “meaningful use” as defined by the final ruling of EMR system requirements. Not to worry, the EMR vendor should be responsible for keeping your system compliant.
2. Now what about these EMR companies? There are hundreds of them, all claiming to be the best. On top of that there are resellers for the same products. In short, lots of choices. However, company consolidation and mergers are becoming frequent.
3. When selecting a EMR provider, it should be approached the same as you would examine a patient before prescribing a course of action. Expect this from any EMR representative.
4. How much will a EMR cost and who pays? $20 BILLION has been allocated for physicians to say bye-bye to paper charts. So, the sooner you use a EMR system, the more you gain. This totals up to $44,000 per physician, not group. Purchase, install and use a EMR right now, you will receive $18,000 in 2011, $12,000 in 2012, and so on. If you put off EHR adoption for a year or two, you lose out on incentives to go electronic now.
5. Do you have a EMR already? You will receive payments as long as the system demonstrates meaningful use.
6. Financing options and paying for upfront EMR costs are numerous. Many EMR vendors have plans ready to gain your business. In addition, the US Small Business subcommittee is considering a EMR/EHR loan program which awaits approval from the Senate.
7. Consider offering your patients access to their personal health records (PHR). You might as well. Soon, there will be widespread demand for immediate patient access to their charts. More on that later.
8. Other Healthcare Information Technology programs to encourage EMR adoption are Regional Extension Centers, Health Information Exchanges and Beacon Communities. Funds are provided to these programs through various Federal and state sources.