The question that should be on the minds of most doctors isn’t whether to switch your practice over from paper records to electronic health records, it should be when. Eventually it will be more than just a good idea; it will be virtually mandatory as EHRs start to be implemented by state health legislations for anyone who wished to continue practicing medicine across all specialties.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, a part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), provides an unprecedented opportunity and financial motivation for providers to adopt new health information technology. Under terms of the act, doctors are eligible to receive incentive payments for converting to electronic health records (EHR)—provided your office meets the federal requirements by adopting a certified EHR product and then continuing to use the certified EHR meaningfully in your practice.
True certified EHR systems differ from mere electronic record-keeping and digital note-taking systems. True certified EHRs contain all the health records of a patient—including radiology and lab reports and narrative reports generated by outside specialists. Certified EHRs can organize multiple pieces of data in ways that improve patient care and help you, the doctor, manage an entire population of patients. You might sort your patient roster to see who his high cholesterol, for example. Were all of those patients given home exercises? Nutrition recommendations? If not, you can e-mail them now with appropriate recommendations without scheduling an additional office visit. Is there a contraindication in prescribing a medication based on information from a different office visit at another doctor’s office? A certified EHR would allow you to see this as well as pass along your recommendations and diagnoses to future health care professionals treating your patient.
Just as important, EHRs will be able to connect to the nationwide data bank of health information making treatment more effective and less redundant. The systems will be interoperable, and records of the treatments patients have received elsewhere will be immediately accessible.
What’s more, pertinent bodies such as the CDC and WHO will have HIPAA-compliant access to this information, too. “Now we can demonstrate outcomes,” says Dr. Kraus. “All the data is there in the EHR. We can prove the effectiveness on a much more global scale. Rather than a study with 300 patients, now we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of patients’ data that we can study.” This translates to a better health care system, and healthier patients.
Although electronic health records are not yet mandatory nationwide, states like Minnesota have already implemented the first step and mandated that by 2015 all health care providers must have certified EHRs in place. 5+ other states are also arguing implementing a certified EHR mandate as everyone starts to get on board with the improved health care vision set forth.
The questions is not a matter of if EHRs will be mandated nationwide, but a matter of when. Take advantage of the government incentives that are out there for your practice to switch over to EHRs that not only benefit you as a provider, but your patients as well giving them better control over their health care. Give EHR Funding a call today and a government funding specialist will be able to get your practice on the right track to compliance and incentive funding to pay for these upgrades, as well. Call 866-203-3260 today.