EHR Systems, Meaningful Use Certification, and HITECH Incentives … Where do YOU stand?

EHR certification flow chart

On January 5, 2011 a two physician medical group, as announced by eMDs in Austin, TX received $42,500 under the Medicaid HITECH incentive program for meeting the Meaningful Use Criteria with their Electronic Health Records (EHR) system.  This was the first such payout to a physician practice under the provisions of the HITECH Act.  Such a historic event should trigger a series of questions…

Are you an EHR system?  Is the vendor of your current EHR or Practice Management system promising to be certified soon, but can’t give you a timetable?

Wanted:  “Certification for Meaningful Use Criteria”

During the past thirty-days a rather significant increase in requests for assistance have landed on my desk.   Some of these requests came from medical groups looking for assistance in achieving Meaningful Use and qualifying for EHR Vendors and healthcare IT development companies who need help in upgrading their system so they can pass the EHR certification requirements, either for individual modules or complete certification.

Suddenly it appears that the rush is on to have one’s Electronic Health Record system certified.  The handful of certifying organizations, such as the Drummond Group and CCHIT, are getting busy.  Some of the recent new clients engaging us include EHR vendors, who are now scrambling to ensure their certification.  Finally, their customers – medical groups, doctors, hospitals, and clinics – are asking, “How much longer do I have to wait?”  Many are pursuing Meaningful Use, and they’re eligible professionals or hospitals, but continue to wait for their software to meet the EHR certification criteria laid out by the feds.

Combined EHR and Operational Expertise will Facilitate Success

For the EHR system vendors, there are the usual challenges with interpretation of some of the Meaningful Use certification criteria, and with finding software engineers with the right expertise to write code.  And there is also a need for expertise that helps an IT/EHR vendor who is new to healthcare figure out the how and why of system use, not just the certification criteria.

These EHR system vendors need healthcare management and clinical professionals to assist in interpreting the certification criteria and to advise these companies in order to increase the probability for a successful, timely outcome.  And of course the EHR certification criteria are the bare minimum; EHR software must do a lot more than just what’s required for Meaningful Use.

EHR Expertise

Selecting and implementing an EHR system is among the most complicated undertakings any healthcare organization will ever undertake.  After all, this is transformative technology.  It will touch virtually everything that happens in an organization.  It will require many resources – financial and human.  And it will be hard at the beginning, but success is certainly possible, with improvements in your practice or services, as well as incentive payments, attainable.  So think carefully about increasing your chances for a successful selection and implementation process by adding experienced, knowledgeable people to your staff for the project.

HITECH Act incentives are, and will continue to be, paid out.  The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), responsible for designing and administering the program, has set a very aggressive timetable for achieving Meaningful Use or to be subject to penalties.   The clock is ticking … loudly!

To learn more about selecting and implementing an EHR system download a free copy of our EHR Technology Reference Guide.  This complete 26 page booklet is a logical and sequential description of the process:  “The Art and Science of Evaluating, Selecting, and Implementing an Electronic Health Records System”.

When you need proven expertise and performance

Dr. Gunter G. Fuchs

Dr. Gunter G. Fuchs has over 30 years of clinical, administrative, consulting, acute care operations, and strategic planning experience in domestic and international healthcare.