In the last post, we discussed the advent and implementation of the Electronic Medical Record. We considered the pitfalls that change brings. So why then are our health care professionals migrating to the EMR?
The federal government has incentivized its use with the availability of grants worth nearly $1.2 billion to help hospitals and health care providers implement and use electronic health records. These grants are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and will help health care providers qualify for new incentives that were made available in 2010 to doctors and hospitals that “meaningfully use” electronic health records.
If there are incentives to implement then conversely there must be penalties if health care providers do not have an EMR system in place. Penalties are likely to be enforced in 2015 on providers without EMRs and to those that don’t abide by the “meaningful use” guidelines. Those penalties will come in the form of reduced Medicare payments. Initially, the proposed Medicare payment reduction is 1% and could escalate to as much as 5%. Although 1% may not appear significant consider the large hospital system with millions of dollars in Medicare payments each year. The financial impact is staggering. The missing revenue will create a ripple effect in staffing, salaries, and supplies just to name a few.
One would be remiss in the discussion of the EMR if the term “meaningful use” is not addressed. Evidently it is a key component to the federal government’s goals for health care reform as it is a key metric used to determine both incentive payments and levy penalties. With so much at stake an entire industry has evolved to satisfy the meaningful use requirements. What exactly is meaningful use? How can equitable guidelines be applied to both hospital and physician providers?