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EMR News Roundup 11/15

Is Your Practice Ready To Go Paperless?

There’s no doubt that the meaningful use incentive money, made available by the ARRA HITECH Act (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) is drawing a boatload of attention. Under this legislation, the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have set requirements for the meaningful use of healthcare information technology (HIT). If these requirements are met by eligible providers, they qualify for HHS meaningful use incentive money up to $63,750 over the next six years.

For many practices the question is not whether to go paperless to qualify for ARRA HITECH meaningful use incentives but rather, when. However, there are many factors to consider when determining whether a practice will be successful at taking the leap to 100% electronic.

A Few Questions to Consider

Is the physician practice primarily interested in receiving incentive money available through the ARRA HITECH Act?

Is the practice primarily interested in going 100% electronic, and the incentives are just a nice bonus?

Does the practice have the upfront capital to invest in a meaningful use EHR? Or does the practice require the CMS meaningful use incentive money to fund the investment?

Are the practice staff ready and eager to make the switch? Are they tech savvy?

Would the practice staff benefit from taking a slower, more measured approach to adding technology piece-by-piece into the practice?

Is the office practice prepared to scan in all patient folders to include in an EHR and devote staff time for EHR training?

The key to the ARRA HITECH Act is to increase patient safety and improve the quality of care patients receive. However, the reality is that many practices are hesitant to embark on adopting HIT. There are a variety of reasons: the belief that implementing an EHR/EMR will not provide adequate return on investment; worries that practice productivity will drop dramatically during implementation of an EHR; and the ever-looming issue of financing a new system.

Practice Options

If the practice’s long-term strategy is to go 100% paperless, this is the time to begin taking steps towards meeting CMS meaningful use requirements. Practices that adopt an EHR or EMR and demonstrate the meaningful use of the technology can be eligible for meaningful use of EHR incentive money as early as May 2011 if they are up and running with their EHR by January 2011. Eligible providers who take this route may qualify for up to $63,750 in meaningful use funds over the next six years.

Practices that wish to advantage of the ARRA meaningful use incentive money but are not prepared financially to make the dollar and time commitment required by EHR adoption can opt to install a modular EMR (electronic medical records) system which, if certified, can allow them to meet meaningful use regulations and also benefit from the incentive money. This modular approach qualifies as adoption of meaningful use EMR. As with practices that implement a complete EHR, if these practices implement their modular EMR by January 2011, they could receive CMS meaningful use incentive dollars as early as May 2011.

Providers should review and weigh all options to determine the course of action that will most greatly benefit their practice and patients. Practices that don’t pass the 100% electronic litmus test still have modular options that will keep them in the game and on their way to qualifying for meaningful use incentive funds.

By: Elinore Tibbetts

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How EMR Incentives Favor Early Adopters Of EMR Software

Electronic medical records are fast replacing traditional paper records around the globe. In order to encourage doctors to transition from traditional paper records to EMR software, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has made funds available for early adopters. This article will examine how healthcare facilities that adopt EMR software soon can receive tremendous incentives.

Beginning January 1st, 2011 the United States Government (via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) is offering massive incentives to physicians and medical facilities making the switch from traditional paper records to more efficient EMR software. In fact, starting in 2015 physicians who have not made the switch could start earning penalties for their failure to adopt EMR technology.

These incentives are currently being offered in order to issue in a new, more effective way of tracking patient data. Here are a few of the highlights of what a physician could receive for adopting EMR software in 2011:

1. Up to $44,000 in stimulus money from Medicare. This money can be collected over a 5 year period, with $18,000 being available the first year to physicians who meet the meaningful use standards upon initial implementation. This money is also available to each physician within a practice.
2. Up to $63,750 in funds from Medicaid. These funds can be collected over a 6 year period with $21,250 available the first year to physicians who are working toward installing an EMR system that complies with meaningful use standards. This funding is also available for each physician.
3. Avoiding penalties. Penalties will be issued starting in 2015 for physicians who have not adopted EMR software by that time. Starting in 2015 the Medicare fee schedule will be reduce by 1%, with 2% and 3% reductions to follow in 2016 and 2017 respectively. In order to avoid these penalties and receive the maximum incentive payments switching in 2011 is recommended.
4. Return on Investment. With the help of incentives EMR will also give physicians a positive ROI in a relatively short period of time. Physicians can increase their reimbursements and reduce costs associated with charts and paper records. Less clutter, more organization, and greater efficiency are just a few of the other benefits of implementing EMR software.

The earlier physicians switch, the more money is on the table. It is just a matter of finding the right company to help integrate the right software for your practice.

By: Jamie Hanson

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Electronic Health Records system funding is now available for most doctors and hospitals. EHR software systems are now being required for Medicare and Medicaid providers.


EMR Adoption Barriers: Cost, Chaos And Culture

Electronic medical records (EMR) are seen as an optimistic advancement in efficiency, productivity and workflow throughout the entire healthcare industry. EMRs help make healthcare safer and more cost effective by lowering operating expenses, streamlining documentation and eliminating errors. Despite overwhelming evidence of the benefits of EMRs, there are still physicians and hospitals reluctant to transition into the Age of Information, with as few as 17% of physicians using EMRs today. There are three main barriers that hinder the healthcare industry from EMR adoption and implementation: cost, chaos, and culture.

Implementation costs are a big hurdle to overcome in the current economy, especially for smaller practices. In addition to the price of purchase, a practice’s revenue stream may decrease temporarily due to the slowed productivity associated with physicians learning the new system. It is tempting to focus on the system’s up-front cost, rather than how much revenue it will generate for the bottom line and save the practice in the future. Efficient and properly applied systems will pay for themselves in the first one to two years of operation.

The chaos of choosing a vendor can easily deter an interested physician. There are hundreds of vendors and systems available on the market and trying to decide on one can be overwhelming and frustrating. It is difficult for many physicians to determine which specific EMR system is the best fit for their practice. Another disincentive associated with EMR implementation is the change of operations and training neededfor implementation. It is recommended to invest in a customized system that works according to the physician or facilities’ specifications, so that a potentially chaotic change is minimal and training is cost effective.

History demonstrates that culture is hesitant to change. Medicine is often referred to as the second oldest profession and since inception, physicians and doctors have used paper records. Furthermore, news of security breaches in electronic patient information encourage skepticism in physicians, wary of privacy concerns and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations. It is important to remember that computer systems are usually very well protected, while filing cabinets, desks or paper charts are physically accessible to anyone.

The future of the healthcare industry relies on technologies like EMRs to efficiently manage practices or facilities to succeed in the Age of Information. However, there are still physicians and hospitals that are reluctant to make the transition. There are three main barriers that are holding the healthcare industry back from EMR adoption and implementation: cost, chaos, and culture. e-MDs offers a host of affordable solutions for physicians and facilities looking to modernize or enhance their services with the latest EMR technology. e-MDs is committed to providing operational solutions and delivering the clinical tools needed to succeed in today’s medical field.

By: Michael.Young

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Ethan Luke. e-MDs powerful software can help manage your electronic medical records






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