Besides CMS incentives for electronic health records implementation, what financial aspects of EHR are lawmakers, regulators and physicians talking about? According to HITECH Watch, the answer is simple: cost, cost, cost.
The price of utilizing many pay-for-use EHR systems far outweighs the Medicare/Medicaid payouts offered under ARRA and HITECH, the news source said. This means that many clinicians are increasingly concerned with their ability to pay for electronic records.
HITECH Watch pointed to healthcare commentator Margarit Gur-Arie, who recently published a long article which asks who should be responsible for the cost of EHR technology?
She considers insurance providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, physicians and even the patients themselves, ultimately deciding that patients should shoulder the onus of EHR cost.
The irony in all this foofaraw is that we at Mitochon offer free EHR software that hinges on an ad-based model. Participating advertisers bear the brunt of the financial burden, leaving small practices with the option to either stick with a free e-records package or, for a small fee, to add on an ePrescribing tool.
Who should foot the bill for EHR? Our answer is "not you."
A widely interconnected health information exchange network is one of the primary goals of CMS's EHR incentives program, which is why we at Mitochon believe in facilitating the movement of health records to an all-digital realm.
Farzad Mostashari, the National Health IT Coordinator, appears to agree. The ONC official told Government Health IT that he is pushing the HIT Standards Committee to establish quality benchmarks now, even though EHR systems and ePrescribing have not yet been universally adopted.
Why? "We can’t afford to wait another five years before we have exchange in this country," he stated at a Standards Committee meeting on September 28.
Mostashari and his colleagues at the ONC have noted that Stage 2 meaningful use requirements will require much more data transport and security, as well as a standardized user vocabulary, the news source noted.
Other members of the team added that the agency has been making great strides toward interoperability.
John Halamka, co-chair of the Health Information Security Standards Committee and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said that the HISSC is quite possibly the hardest-working advisory committee ever created by the federal government, according to the meeting notes.
Thus, physicians who are concerned that EHR is an insular technology may be reassured knowing that the ONC is pushing to broaden HIE and interoperability as quickly as possible.
At Mitochon, delivering quality EHR systems that allow freer inter-practice communication is just what we do. Our philosophy holds that patients and healthcare providers come first, which is why we designed an electronic records-keeping system that is free and intuitive, and that provides support for best practices.
Such innovations are key to the improvement of healthcare quality, according to a talk given at the annual American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) conference.
Carolyn Clancy, the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, delivered the speech as a clarion call for more scientifically managed patient care.
"The fundamental problem with the quality of American medicine is that we’ve failed to view delivery of health care as a science… That’s a mistake, a huge mistake," she said, quoting Peter Pronovost, a physicians at Johns Hopkins University.
His comments were made in a 2007 issue of the New Yorker Magazine. Since that time, great strides have been made in patient data delivery, not least via the CMS Medicare and Medicaid incentives program.
However, the healthcare system must analyze how patient data flows and how doctors share best practices in order to pursue a more efficient – and ultimately cheaper – infrastructure, she emphasized.