Let me guess.
You’re looking for more information on the HITECH Act, but it’s been hard finding anything that simply sums-up what the Act is and how it’s going to affect your practice, right?
Well, we think we can help.
First, let’s answer the easy question:
What’s the HITECH Act?
It’s the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, enacted as a part of President Obama’s $787 billion dollar stimulus package, and meant to stimulate industry-wide EHR adoption.
Of course, the longer answer requires a little back-story.
So let’s start HERE...
In 1967, when a computer took up an entire room, medical researchers first began to record their findings electronically.
Unfortunately, scalability and costs limited its spread beyond the halls of academia.
In the 70s and 80s, Silicon Valley was born, nerds ruled, and the race was on to put a computer on every desktop.
By the 90s, computers were freed from their desktops and laptops became a business necessity.
Doctors went online to do research, shop, e-mail...
Nearly everything except record and exchange clinical information.
Fast-forward a bunch of years.
Technology is now sophisticated enough to digitize and index the medical records of every single person in the country.
Still, only 4 out 10 doctors have adopted an EHR.
And only around half of them are using it to its fullest, while most doctors are still drowning in paper.
President Obama – like President Bush before him – realized in order to truly stimulate EHR adoption, the industry was going to need a little push.
Which brings us to today.
The HITECH Act provides funds –$19.2-billion dollar’s worth –to help guide physicians away from the inefficiencies of a paper-based system.
The main goal is to improve health outcomes and lower costs by encouraging 90% of all doctors to become meaningful user’s of an EHR by 2019.
Starting this year with more than 17-billion dollars distributed in the form of incentive payments.
Qualified professionals are eligible to receive up to $44,000 over 5 years in Medicare incentives and up to $63,750 in Medicaid incentives, depending on a mix of requirements and patient thresholds.
Anyone who waits to get started could lose out, and even get hit with penalties, beginning in 2015.
Here’s an example of how it all works.
Say you’re looking to collect Medicare Incentives for the first year of payment and you use a certified EHR and demonstrate 2011 meaningful use criteria.
In 2011, you’re eligible to receive payments equal to 75% of your Medicare allowable charges up to a maximum of 18 thousand dollars.
So, if your Medicare charges exceed 24-thousand dollar in 2011, you’ll receive the maximum – 18 grand – in that year.
Each year after that, you’ll receive additional payments up to a maximum total of $44K.
In order to qualify for these payments, providers need to meet a comprehensive set of criteria – known as the Meaningful Use Requirements of an EHR.
These requirements, which the government defined at the end of 2009 in a 700-page document, break down into 5 big goals...
...And within each goal, a host of measures that will continue to evolve over time...
Only by using a certified EHR and meeting all of these Requirements will you qualify for HITECH money.
OK. If your head’s spinning at this point, don’t worry. The government knew this wouldn’t be easy, so they set aside $2 Billion of stimulus money to create Regional Extension Centers, or RECs, to help you figure it all out.
Over the next four years, these RECs will help physicians make sense of the HITECH Act through education and outreach programs.
Keep in mind: RECs are meant to help practices adopt EHRs
but to earn HITECH Act incentives, each practice will be responsible for meeting all the meaningful use requirements–including those that change over time.
You can stay on top of all this on your own, or choose a software-enabled service solution like athenaClinicals that does it all for you–letting you focus on patient care.
But no matter what decision you make, consider this...
The wrong solution could cost you more than the incentives will pay, and not actually resolve any of the problems the government set out to solve for you in the first place.
To learn how our EHR solution is designed to roll with all the changes to come and to find out about our HITECH Act Guarantee, visit us at athenahealth dot com. Find out how we can help you stay profitable and stay focused on your patients.
The History of Meaningful Use The HITECH Act and its Meaningful Use provision is rapidly reshaping the funding and implementation for electronic health record adoption in the...