Thursday, June 11, 2009

HITECH Bill & what it means for Physicians & Medical Offices

New stimulus package for the healthcare sector, and the incentives for electronic health record systems adoption.

The key elements of the HITECH bill are the incentives outlined for the purchase & meaningful use of a certified EHR. Cash incentive offered is up to $44,000 reimbursed as Medicare payments. Payments start in 2011 and end in 2014, and are meant to offset the cost of purchasing & implementing an EHR for physician offices. Readers should note, that at the time of writing this blog-post, that the terms Certified EHR & Meaningful Use are largely undefined and still being worked on.

The focus of this article is more the requirement for demonstrating “Meaningful Use” of the electronic health record. As part of meaningful use, physicians have to demonstrate that they are using the EHR to achieve objectives that the government will lay out in the coming months. The bill also makes its intentions clear that every year the criteria for meaningful use will intensify, requiring clinicians to make greater use of the EHR. Those not achieving will not be eligible for on-going incentives even though they may have qualified for incentives in prior years.

Many physicians I have spoken to feel like an EHR demotes them to being data-entry jockeys and de-humanizes the process of diagnosis and treatment. They do see the advantages of going paperless & having reportable data but shudder at the thought of having to use templates for encounter capture. There are thousands of instances of failed EHR, and their fear isn't unreal. Not surprising many feel that that even if they were to make the plunge and splurge on the purchase they may not qualify on the basis of meeting meaningful use criteria.

However, a system that has worked for eons is clinicians using speech, also known as dictation, as a method of capturing encounter information. Combine that with natural language processing technologies and you get a very rich set of data which can drive information into an EHR, leveraging the many benefits of an EHR.

Therefore, an EHR which uses Speech as the primary form of input, uses natural language processing for driving discrete data and integrates with existing office processes would see the highest adoption & success rates. And with the right speech-to-text provider physician offices can be sure that they will continue to meet meaningful use criteria, whatever that turns out to be at the end of this year.

Mrecord has been working towards that goal for the past many years integrating various cutting edge technologies including voice recognition, & natural language processing. It integrates its cutting edge Speech To Text platform with its Speech driven EHR product, all of it delivered via the cloud. Medical offices don't even have to purchase an EHR and still qualify for the $44,000 incentive.

Could this be the turning point for EHR adoption?

To learn more about our initiative and to participate in it, go to mrecord.com


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