America's doctors and hospitals moved one step closer toward collecting a part of the $27.3 billion government incentive program to encourage them to scan their paper charts into Electronic Health Records (EHRs). The program is part of the 2009 Economic Stimulus Act.
"This week the Department of Health and Human Services provided clairity to its rules and guidelines relating to EHR systems," says Steven Hastert, president of RecordNations (http://www.recordnations.com), a company that helps medical professionals with records scanning and EHR Systems. "It is our hope that these changes make it easier for smaller practices and rural hospitals to qualify for the government funding to help offset the cost."
According to the American Medical Association, there were more than 800,000 physicians in the U.S. in 2009. Of these, only 6.3% of physicians reported having a fully functional EHR system in place according to the Center for Disease Control.
"The widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) in the United States is inevitable," said David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said in a statement. Bluementhal's office, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced new "meaningful use" rules that support and expand the use of electronic health records.
Blumenthal believes the changes will allow health care professionals to finally make the technology advances that other sectors of our economy began to undertake years ago. "EHRs will improve caregivers' decisions and patients' outcomes. Once patients experience the benefits of this technology, they will demand nothing less from their providers. Hundreds of thousands of physicians have already seen these benefits in their clinical practice," he said.
The EHR grants were included as part of the 2009 Economic Stimulus Act. They were designed to accelerate the transition from paper documents to EHRs over the next five years. It provides $44,000 to $63,750 to eligible health professionals from Medicare and Medicaid, respectively. In order to qualify for $44,000 or more in stimulus plan incentives, physicians must meet the "Meaningful Use" criteria using an HHS-certified EHR system.
"These changes will be challenging for clinicians and hospitals, but the time has come to act," Blumenthal added.
When the EHR grants were initially proposed, the criteria to qualify for government funds was rigid, and included an "all or nothing" approach. But now, hospitals and professionals have to meet a core set of 14 or 15 objectives, respectively, and may choose five of the remaining 10 objectives in an a la carte menu. The money will be distributed in bonus Medicare payments for adoption of electronic health records over the next 10 years.
The new rules also define the standards that must be met by EHR technology so medical providers have confidence that the EHR system they select will perform all the required functions.
"These changes were solely needed," says Hastert. "Freeing up the incentive funds will help sole providers offset the significant costs of purchasing software and document scanning (http://www.recordnations.com/services/document-imaging.php)." He said interest in practices to convert their records is on the rise and they expect it accelerate dramatically.
More about Record Nations
Based in Lakewood, Colorado, Record Nations help medical practices to move to EHRs. They offer document scanning and EHR software solutions to practices nationwide. For more information about Record Nations visit www.recordnations.com (http://www.recordnations.com).
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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/07/prweb4263584.htm.