Video | Meaningful Use and Electronic Health Records EHR
Electronic Healthcare Records Video Transcript
If you are like most doctors you’ve probably heard something about a government incentive program encouraging physicians to implement electronic health records, however, you’re probably a little fuzzy on the details. Well, you’re not alone the let’s take a closer look and see if we can help you make sense of it all.
On February seventeenth two thousand nine, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also known as the Stimulus Package was signed by President Obama into law. Contained within its pages is new legislation known as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Help Act That’s a mouthful so we’ll just call it the HITECH Act.
So what exactly is the HITECH Act; and how does it affect you, a physician? Well, very simply it uses financial incentives to encourage physicians to adopt Certified Electronic Health Records or EHRs. Through the increased use of EHRs the government hopes to achieve the goal of a national health information network that will result in improved quality of care, patient safety, and lower costs.
What kind of financial incentives are we talking about here? Perhaps as much as thirty-four billion dollars. So now you’re probably asking yourself two questions. One, how do I qualify for this money? And two, just how much of that thirty-four billion is available to me? Well, the answers to both of these questions are actually quite simple.
To qualify for a piece of the HITECH money there are two things you will need to do. First, your practice must purchase and use a government-certified EHR. Secondly, your practice will need to demonstrate meaningful use of this EHR. This means that you will have to prove to the government that the EHR is being properly implemented according to their criteria.
This meaningful use criteria is detailed in a list of twenty-five requirements issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. It is broken down into two sets of objectives and measures; a core set and a menu set. A core set consists of fifteen non-negotiable objectives that all physicians must comply with. In the menu set, however, providers are free to choose five items from among a menu of ten to implement.
In all this means physicians must meet twenty total objectives in order to demonstrate meaningful use. Fail to meet even one of these meaningful use requirements and you become ineligible for the incentives. Now that you know how to qualify, let’s find out how much of that thirty-four billion you can get your hands on. The answer to this depends on which incentive program you’re eligible for.
HITECH provides two separate programs, one for Medicare and one for Medicaid. Medicare physicians can earn up to seventy-five percent of their Medicare allowable charges up to a maximum of forty-four thousand dollars. With Medicaid close to sixty-four thousand is available to physicians who see more than thirty percent of Medicaid patients. That number is reduced to twenty percent if you’re a pediatrician.
Keep in mind this incentive is for each eligible provider within a practice. For example; have five providers on the Medicaid program and your practice can receive up to three hundred and twenty thousand dollars in incentive funds.
Unfortunately, though the HITECH Act is not just about handing out free money. Delay or even decide not to implement a certified EHR and you will be penalized. Not only will you lose out on the incentives, but the government will also begin decreasing your reimbursement rates by as early as twenty twelve.
So as you can see at its core the HITECH Act is not that complicated at all. Simply purchase and use a government-certified EHR, meet all the meaningful use requirements and you’ll be eligible for the HITECH incentives.
And on a final note be aware of the fact that commercial insurance carriers are already talking about jumping on the meaningful use bandwagon and requiring providers to meet the same criteria for their pay for performance programs. Hopefully, this has given you a clear understanding of the HITECH Act and what it means to you and your practice.
Over the next several years EHRs will change the way we as health providers keep patient records. Change is coming fast; act now to make sure that you don’t miss out on your portion of the HITECH money.