The 2009 HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) mandates that Medicare and Medicaid health care providers adopt Electronic Health Records (EHR) technology. And the HITECH Act in conjunction with the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) has set up an EHR incentive program.
Medicare and Medicaid physicians and health care providers who qualify for the EHR incentive program, can receive up to $44,000 or $63,750 respectively. But they must implement electronic health record software and demonstrate meaningful use of their EHR software.
My prior article “Should Health Care Providers Get EHR Software in 2011?” talked about why you might want to jump on board with electronic health records before the end of the year.
But you may be wondering: Why you need to invest in electronic health record software at all?
What if you accept Medicare and/or Medicaid but you’re not in the health care providers categories that qualifies you for the EHR incentive program.
What if you are a Medicare or Medicaid specialist that may be unable to meet the CMS meaningful use criteria in order to get the EHR incentive program payments?
What if you don’t accept Medicare or Medicaid at all?
Consider these Electronic Health Records Benefits:
Lower operational costs. According to a white paper from the telecommunications network provider Qwest, medical practices that use EHR effectively have lower personnel costs than those that rely on paper records.16 Other operational cost savings result from eliminating the need for space to house paper records and from reducing costly transcription requirements.
Greater physician productivity. Physicians who use EHR systems can deliver quality care to more patients in the same amount of time, because they spend less time perusing charts and searching for information during patient visits – thanks to the ability to quickly look up information in a variety of ways. For instance, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) cites a 2009 example of a medical practice that increased its volume of patient throughput by 11% as a result of increased physician productivity associated with implementation of an EHR system.17
Improved compliance. While some medical practices have been concerned about maintaining the confidentiality and privacy of patient information after moving to electronic records (see p. 6), the reality is that EHR systems can improve, rather than impede, compliance. This is because with electronic records, information can be easily organized for auditing purposes and made more readily and rapidly available than it is in paper records.
Improved decision-making. As HHS explains, “The data, and the timeliness and availability of it, will enable providers to make better decisions and provide better care.”18 EHR systems give providers immediate access to accurate, complete and current information about patients, which means they have better resources with which to make clinical decisions.
Less risk of medical error. EHR systems improve the accuracy and clarity of medical records, making errors less likely. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine asserts that ‘there are numerous ways in which EHRs can diminish diagnostic errors,”19 including sorting and organizing medical data, allowing continuous updating of information, providing reliable information about tests and results, and creating a forum for discussion about evaluations and diagnoses.
Reduced duplication of testing. Making current health information instantly available to physicians and others helps to ensure that they have timely access to data that show what tests have been ordered previously and/or by others in the practice, and what treatment has been prescribed. With this information at hand, physicians are less likely to order tests unnecessarily when they can’t be certain of testing history, and less likely to delay treatment due to time spent ascertaining what treatment the patient has undergone.
Streamlined administrative tasks. Many EHR systems automate clinical and non-clinical tasks ranging from submitting refill requests to sending out patient appointment reminders. This removes the burden of having administrative staff perform such tasks manually. Automation of these duties also saves time and reduces the risk of potentially costly manual errors.
Improved staff efficiency. With patient chart information immediately available through a computer interface, administrative staff can much more efficiently handle tasks such as scheduling patient visits, contacting patients, and preparing patient information in advance of an appointment. EHR systems also increase staff efficiency by completely eliminating the need for certain tasks such as re¬entering data from handwritten notes.
Simpler, lower-cost records maintenance. Electronic records eliminate many complications and costs associated with paper-based systems. Electronic charts that can be easily indexed and searched, and that are readily accessible to everyone from physicians to office staff, using a simple computer interface, are easier to retrieve than paper records – and they make it much easier to find information.
The above list of electronic health records benefits should have convinced you. But if you’re one of those dollars and cents people, fill in your information in the form below. You’ll get access to the
“EHR / EMR vs Paper Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator spreadsheet“
It costs to implement EHR software, BUT electronic health records pays you back big dividends. If you plan to have a viable medical practice, Electronic Health Records will need to be in your future and in your medical practice.
about the HITECH Act, Electronic Health Records or the
Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS)
EHR incentive program?
I invite you to claim free access to an informative interview audio titled
How To Convert To Electronic Health Records,
When I’m Completely Technology Adverse,
And Don’t Know Where To Start!
Is electronic health record adoption a mystery to you?
Don’t have the time or expertise?
Want to take advantage of EHR incentive money?
Call Sandra Noble at 404-374-3384 today to schedule a
to find out about our
EHR Software, HITECH Act, and Meaningful Use assistance!
NOBLE & ASSOCIATES CONSULTING, INC