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HHS Starts the Process of Establishing EHR Certification Program

11. March 2010

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Healthcare providers that are eager to get in on CMS’s electronic health record (EHR) incentive program are one step closer to finding out which systems are government-approved. Many providers have been holding off on buying an EHR system since the government hasn’t certified any to be acceptable for the EHR program yet. Only certified EHRs will qualify for the potential $44,000-per-EP incentive (which will be paid over a five-year period to those who participate for the full five years). However, a March 2 message from David Blumenthal, MD, the national coordinator for health information technology, lays out the proposed rule for establishing such certification programs. You can read about the proposal and submit comments via this Web site.

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DHHS Will Survey Medicare Benes on EHR Use

10. March 2010

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The feds are having providers race pell-mell to implement electronic health records, so it’s nice that they’re stopping to consider how much federal health care program beneficiaries will actually use the new tools themselves. During 12 weeks next fall, the Department of Health and Human Services will  survey a group of 500 Medicare beneficiaries for feedback on the PHR systems they’ll be using during that time, according to an announcement published in the Government Health IT site. Since last year, Medicare fee-for-service patients in Arizona and Utah have pilot-tested personal health record (PHR) tools that are supposed to help them track their health. The tools are available via GoogleHealth, NoMoreClipboard, PassportMD and HealthTrio. HHS, together with CMS, want to know more about “why consumers, and specifically Medicare beneficiaries, elect to use PHRs and what functionality they want from a PHR,” the announcement adds.

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Physician EMR Market Still Wide-Open

24. February 2010

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EMR brand recognition among physicians is low. The health system EMR market is fairly settled, with big IT companies dominating the post-ARRA market just as they did in the days before the stimulus. But the in physician EMR market is more like the Wild West, with multiple companies looking to stake a claim. There’s no clear favorite among the EMR vendors vying to sell systems to physicians and score their share of all that ARRA money, says a new report from Kalorama Information. Sure, there are big tech players in the physician market, such as IBM, 3M, Dell and Wal-Mart, and companies like Allscripts, Epic, eClinicalworks, athenahealth and NextGen are current leaders. But no one company has even one-fifth of the market.

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Get Patient’s Signature on Medical Records Transfers

24. February 2010

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  Here’s one more example of how a move from paper for EMR can remove some of your medical records headaches.   Question:A patient broke our drug contract, so we were forced to discharge her. She paid for a copy of her medical record and brought it to another provider. The new physician later called us looking for more information on the patient. We determined that the patient removed specific information from her file, so we sent the missing records to the new doctor. Was this wrong? Answer: From a medical professional standpoint, no. When you are transferring a chart to a new doctor, however, you send it directly to the new physician, rather than giving it to the patient. And if it is a transfer, you don’t charge the patient for a copy of the chart. This way, you are assured the new physician receives the entire chart.

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80 Percent of Americans Believe EHRs Are Unsecure

3. February 2010

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The feds are pouring billions into the EHR implementation, but the majority of Americans — 80 percent — feel their electronic medical records are at risk when they’re in the hands of private industry or the government, Forbes reports. (Thanks to Fierce Healthcare’s Neil Versel for the heads up.) The Ponemon Institute survey found that for 71 percent of respondents, it is okay for hospitals, clinics or physicians to store their health records. Likewise 99 percent believe a patient’s doctor should have access to his or her digital health records stored in a national system. However only 38 percent said that a federal government agency should be able to access those records, and only 11 percent thought that private businesses should have access. It may be a good thing that the U.S. Department of Health is not keen on centralizing health records in a single…

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Occupational Therapy Gets Its Own EMR Tool

27. January 2010

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Occupational therapists are getting some special electronic medical record attention. For a while now, speech pathologists and physical therapists have had the option to use tailored electronic medical record and documentation programs from their national associations — and now it’s occupational therapy’s turn. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) announced in early November a licensing agreement with Cedaron Medical, Inc. to develop an electronic patient record and documentation system for the occupational therapy profession.

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Physician EHR Adoption Gains Traction, Two Indicators Show

19. January 2010

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      Source: CDC   Physician office EHR adoption jumped only slightly last year. Was the ‘meaningful use’ definition too slow coming? Two bits of information from the past couple weeks or so indicate that EHR adoption is full-steam ahead. First indicator: Allscripts is making some serious cash. EHR mega-vendor Allscripts recorded revenues of nearly $170 million for the quarter ending November 30, 2009, Healthcare HIT News reports. That’s a 30 percent increase from the same quarter in 2008 ($128.6 million). “We believe that 2010 will be the ‘Year of the EHR’ in which we expect to see significant acceleration in the adoption and utilization of healthcare information technology to improve quality and reduce cost,” said Glen Tullman, Allscripts CEO. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime market opportunity, driven by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” Second indicator:

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HITECH: Physicians Must Meet 25 Criteria To Achieve ‘Meaningful Use’

13. January 2010

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While waiting for CMS guidelines, some practices have dragged heels on EHR adoption Practices that have been waiting for CMS to define the term “meaningful use” are finally in luck. But as is always the case when the feds are involved, don’t look for a quick one-sentence definition. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 (ARRA) offers annual bonuses to practices that show “meaningful use” of electronic health records, and in 2015, practices that aren’t showing meaningful use will face penalties. However, the government was slow to issue a definition of the term “meaningful use,” causing some physicians to delay  adoption of EHRs because they didn’t want to risk being a non-meaningful user. On Dec. 29, CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced that the definition was finally available for public comment. “CMS’s proposed regulation would define and specify how to demonstrate ‘meaningful…

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HITECH Update: Yes, Virginia, There Will Be a Meaningful Use Rule

16. December 2009

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To all those skeptics out there who think federal regulators will fall behind their HITECH rulemaking schedule and that it’ll be a looooong time before we actually learn the meaning of ‘meaningful use,’ HHS says, ‘Bah, humbug.’ Believe it: The agency will release rules implementing the HITECH act this month, Health Data Management reports, which should keep Medicare incentives to adopt EHR on track for October 1, 2010 (hospitals) and January 1, 2011 (physicians). According to HDM, we can still expect to see one proposed rule and two interim final rules published in December 2009. * RIN: 0991-AB58, an Interim Final Rule with comment period to establish an initial set of data standards, implementation specifications and criteria for certification of electronic health records; * RIN: 0991-AB59, An Interim Final Rule with comment period establishing certification programs for health information technology; and…

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Paper Medical Records to EMR: The Dirty Little Secrets

9. December 2009

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Physician practices that are implementing EMR dish on how ‘easy’ it actually is. With all the hype out there about converting from paper records to EMR, I’ve heard very little about how that process actually happens. That’s why I appreciated heating Kris Cuddy’s nuts-and-bolts EMR implementation session at the Billing & Collections Conference in Orlando this week. And I REALLY appreciated comments from physicians and office managers at her session about what it’s really been like for them to implement EMR at their practices. They have a perspective you sometimes don’t see in all the glowing predictions about how great EMR is going to be once we all adopt it. Three hours, said one workshop participant. That’s how long it took him to transfer his first medical record from paper to EMR. Subsequent conversions are going more quickly,…

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