When the medical practice of Howard Axe, MD, found itself in need of a new electronic prescribing system two years ago, implementing a full electronic health record system with an e-prescribing component was never seriously considered.
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The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched a wide-ranging review of government incentive payments to physicians and hospitals for the Meaningful Use of electronic health records. In addition, OIG is looking at whether providers have used EHRs to facilitate "upcoding" of Medicare charges.
Hospitals and eligible professionals will continue to report clinical quality measures for electronic health records meaningful use via attestation in 2012, just as they must do this year.
Hospitals, critical access hospitals and eligible professionals may continue to report clinical quality measures for meaningful use via attestation in 2012, just as they must do in 2011, according to two proposed rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Also, just like 2011, the measures must be calculated using meaningful use-certified electronic health records.
Farzad Mostashari, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology, has announced his support for delaying Stage 2 of electronic health records meaningful use by one year to 2014 for providers who attest to Stage 1 in 2011.
HHS today named CCHIT (Certification Commission for Health Information Technology), and the Drummond Group, Austin, Texas, as organizations qualified to test and certify electronic health-record systems as capable of meeting meaningful-use criteria under the federal IT subsidy program established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The federal Health IT Policy Committee has recommended that health IT vendors use labels to clarify that their EHR Software is certified to satisfy first-stage requirements for meaningful use in order to ward off potential confusion among buyers about whether systems they are considering will qualify them for the incentive program.
According to the 94,700-member American Academy of Family Physicians, while it "supports the goals" behind the proposed regulations, it believes that the regulations-as proposed-impose hurdles that will challenge small- and mid-sized practices' ability to qualify for the ARRA's health IT subsidies.
A chief concern is that collecting and reporting performance data could become an administrative burden, said Steven Waldren, director of the AAFP's Center for Health IT. He said that his recommendation for the final rules would be to "focus on meaningful use and not reporting on the meaningful use."
Physicians who meet the requirements could receive $44,000 to help pay for their purchase of an electronic health record system.
"They should not implement health IT to get the $44,000," Waldren said, they should do it to improve quality and efficiency and to move toward transforming their practices into a patient-centered medical home. "And, if you do that, you'll get $44,000. I don't think there's anything in there that physicians shouldn't be doing or striving for."
Waldren added that the AAFP is specifically encouraged by the proposed regulations' focus on care coordination, quality and patient-centered care, and he also said the AAFP supports the rules' promotion of using electronic prescribing; clinical decision support; analysis and reporting of evidence-based measures of quality and performance; and the sharing of health information and educational resources with patients.