The HITECH Act: Electronic Health Records and Meaningful Use
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The HITECH Act: Electronic Health Records and Meaningful Use


If you are like most doctors you’ve probably heard something
about a government incentive program encouraging physicians to implement electronic
health records, however you’re probably a little fuzzy on the details. Well,you’re not alone the let’s take a closer look
and see if we can help you make sense of it all. On February seventeenth two thousand nine, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also known as the Stimulus Package was signed by President Obama into law. Contained within it’s pages is new legislation
known as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Help Act That’s a mouthful so we’ll just call it the HITECH Act. So what exactly is the HITECH Act; and how does it affect you, a physician? Well very simply it uses financial incentives
to encourage physicians to adopt Certified Electronic Health Records or EHRs. Through the increased use of EHRs the government
hopes to achieve the goal of a national health information network that will result in improved quality of care, patient safety and lower costs. What kind of financial incentives are we talking
about here? Perhaps as much as thirty four billion dollars. So now you’re probably asking yourself two questions. One, how do I qualify for this money? And two, just how much of that thirty four billion is
available to me? Well the answers to both of these questions
are actually quite simple. To qualify for a piece of the HITECH money there are two things you will need to do. First your practice must purchase and use a government
certified EHR. Secondly your practice will need to demonstrate meaningful use of this EHR. This means that you will have to prove to the government that the EHR is being properly implemented according to their criteria. This criteria is detailed in a list of twenty five
requirements issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. It is broken down into two sets of objectives
and measures; a core set and a menu set. A core set consists of fifteen non-negotiable objectives that all physicians must comply with. In the menu set however, providers are free to choose five items from
among a menu of ten to implement. In all this means physicians must meet twenty total objectives in order to demonstrate meaningful use. Fail to meet even one of these meaningful use requirements and you become ineligible for the incentives. Now that you know how to qualify, let’s find out how much of that thirty four
billion you can get your hands on. The answer to this depends on which incentive
program you’re eligible for. HITECH provides two separate programs, one for Medicare and one for Medicaid. With Medicare physicians can earn up to seventy
five percent of their Medicare allowable charges up to a maximum of forty four thousand dollars. With Medicaid close to sixty four thousand is available to physicians who see more than thirty percent of Medicaid
patients. That number is reduced to twenty percent if you’re a
pediatrician. Keep in mind this incentive is for each eligible provider within a practice. For example; have five providers on the Medicaid program and your practice can receive up to three hundred and twenty thousand dollars in incentive funds.
Unfortunately though the HITECH Act is not just about handing
out free money. Delay or even decide not to implement a certified EHR and you will be penalized. Not only will you lose out on the incentives, but the government will also begin decreasing your
reimbursement rates by as early as twenty twelve. So as you can see at its core the HITECH Act
is not that complicated at all. Simply purchase and use a government certified EHR, meet all the meaningful use requirements and you’ll be eligible for the HITECH incentives. And on a final note beaware of the fact that commercial insurance carriers are already talking about jumping on the meaningful use bandwagon and requiring providers to meet the same criteria for their pay for performance programs. Hopefully this has given you a clear understanding
of the HITECH Act and what it means to you and your practice. Over the next several years EHRs will
change the way we as health providers keep patient records. Change is coming fast; act now to make sure that you don’t miss out on your
portion of the HITECH money.

About Bill McCormick

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9 thoughts on “The HITECH Act: Electronic Health Records and Meaningful Use

  1. This video provides information on how to recieve federal monies for healthcare services to the medicare and medicaid population, primarly. The challenge to change an organization structure to accomodate the meaningful use objectives will involve a mamouth restructing of work flow processes. Moreover, the employees,patients and stakeholders will have to accept a new process of during business in the health arena.

  2. Great video! and very informative. This incentive was extremely instrumental in the compliance of all the healthcare providers to convert from paper charting to electronic health records.

  3. im a compliance lawyer for a blockchain tech company. the incentives are no longer available. this vid is out of date

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