The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), which was part of the recent stimulus bill, has made available $19 billion to promote and stimulate the adoption and use of electronic records primarily through incentives provided by Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
Explore This IssueMarch 2010
The sooner a hospital or private practice adopts EMRs, the more money will be available, Dr. Nussenbaum emphasized. “If you do it each year between 2011 and 2015, you can get $44,000 per physician,” Dr. Nussenbaum said, “but if you don’t start adopting until 2013, it goes down to $39,000. If you adopt in 2014, it goes down to $35,000. And if you start adopting in 2015, you’d have no access to any federal incentive money.”
After that, penalties will be imposed on those who have not yet adopted EMRs. “The penalties start in 2015 with 1 percent,” Dr. Nussenbaum said. “In 2016, it’s 2 percent. It goes all the way down to 2019 with a 5 percent decrease.”
—Brian Nussenbaum, MD
Udayan K. Shah, MD, FACS, FAAP, filled in for his brother, Rahul K. Shah, MD, FACS, FAAP, co-chair of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation’s Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Committee.
Dr. Shah, associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, read from notes provided by his brother regarding potential security problems that may result from the switch to electronic records. There’s the danger, he said, of unauthorized access to patient records, such as Social Security numbers and details about chronic health problems such as diabetes and mental illness, which health and life insurance companies might try to use to deny payment.
“There may be holdouts among patients, and our obligation is to show them the advantages of EMR in respect to outcomes, process improvements, and policy imperatives,” Dr. Shah said. ENTtoday