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Explore This IssueDecember 2011
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Editor’s Note: One of the ways the government is attempting to influence positive change in healthcare is through the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs. These programs provide a financial incentive for the meaningful use of certified EHR technology to improve patient care. Demonstrating meaningful use of an EHR system enables providers to reap benefits beyond financial incentives, including reduction in errors, greater availability and usability of clinical data, reminders and alerts that can facilitate patient care, and automated e-prescribing/refills.
The road to meaningful use, however, is not without obstacles. Organizations that are attempting to demonstrate meaningful use face challenges related to the time required for implementation and training for these systems and the cost to acquire or upgrade EHR systems. Rheumatologists are at different states of readiness to meet meaningful use objectives, and organization size and current status of EHR use are important factors to consider when planning for attestation of meaningful use.
This article is a follow-up to “Behind the Digital Door” (April 2011, p. 52), and the latest in a series of articles about preparing your practice. To read more about getting ready for meaningful use, visit www.The-Rheumatologist.org and search for “meaningful use,” or check out “Road Map to Meaningful Use.”
Four months after signing on with a vendor for a new EHR system, Deborah Wasser is not yet ready to hit the live switch with the “cloud” service that she chose for the solo rheumatology practice of her husband, Kenneth B. Wasser, MD.
The administrator of her husband’s New Jersey practice, Wasser has been working with the vendor on the conversion part of the process to get the office up and running as a fully compliant electronic records user. For an idea of what that’s like, imagine a tall stepladder reaching high into the sky. Already Wasser has logged a few lengthy phone calls with her trainer, who walked her through data migration of office records onto the Internet-based “cloud” system that is maintained on a remote server. She’s finished with conversion and has been told the next step is mapping, although she’s not yet sure what that is.
Medicine’s Digital Revolution
The Wassers are among the many rheumatology practices nationwide attempting to convert their operations to electronic records in order to take advantage of the funds made available through the HITECH Act, up to $44,000 per provider, for the meaningful use of EHR systems.