Healthcare Regulatory Bodies Endorse Economic Stimulus for EMR Adoption

Some healthcare professionals might still be apprehensive about the actual implementation of electronic health record technologies or its cause being supported in the American healthcare industry. However, they should realize that the electronic format for maintaining Patient Health Information has now been endorsed across a wide array of healthcare regulatory bodies that have extended their support to the Economic Stimulus Bill and the corresponding incentive program that has been put forth as a part of the ARRA. Some of the leading examples of this extensive support include:

CBO — Congressional Budget Office

The CBO has been vocal about the effectiveness of extending cash incentives for speeding-up the adoption of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). The organization truly believes that accelerating an IT-based format for storing and accessing patient information will drastically reduce healthcare expenditure. In fact, the CBO has now come out with numbers that illustrate how positively it anticipates the Stimulus Bill will affect the implementation of EMR. CBO has stated that it expects nearly 90% of the physicians and 70% of healthcare facilities to graduate to the electronic format of storing patient information by 2019. The CBO further expects Medicare spending to reduce to the tune of $4.4 billion between 2011 and 2019 simply due to the improvement in health practices due to the adoption of EHR.

HIMSS EHR Association

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) EHR Association represents the EMR companies that are providing customized solutions to facilities/professionals interested in adopting EHRs. This Association has now made the EHR vendors more sensitive to the cause of complying with the standards that have been set forth as a part of EHR certification. The Association realizes that performance and observance of quality benchmarks are critical to the success of EHR adoption. Not doing so could lead to a severe backlash from the healthcare industry and being ridiculed by the federal government. The government realizes the importance of organizations like HIMSS for helping eligible professionals and healthcare facilities to become EHR-compatible by 2014 to avail the ARRA-listed incentives.

Health Information Technology (HIT) Authorizations

The Stimulus Bill itself contains some significant regulations as a part of the HITECH ACT of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

1. It accepts the authority of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology or the ONCHIT. The ONCHIT is authorized to define processes that are needed to establish the certification criteria for practitioners and for finalizing the EHR implementation requirements from the IT perspective.

2. The payment incentives have been listed as a part of Medicare and Medicaid programs which itself ensures that the government would be directly involved in overlooking the appropriate allocation of incentives for EHR-compatible facilities/caregivers.

3. The Stimulus Bill funding allocates $2 billion for various HIT-defined activities that will be regulated by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC). This includes implementation of state-level innovative programs like:
• Clinical Education Demonstration Program
• University Medical Informatics Program