HITECH Act’s Incentives Can Help Providers Improve Patient Care

Diana Ost, Dell enterprise technology blogger | 3/14/2012 | 4 comments

Diana Ost
Healthcare providers know quite well that pending legislation and new regulations can have a profound effect on them and their patients.

The IDC-10 requirement deadline in 2013 is looming, and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 -- which covers digital record-keeping with electronic health records (EHRs) -- has multiple cutoff dates; some in 2012 and others that stretch to 2015.

Compliance deadlines can put pressure on providers, but the HITECH Act comes with an unusual gift: government cash incentives for providers accepting Medicare or Medicaid.

For early adopters and those who comply by the required dates to implement an approved EHR system in their practice, hospital, or long-term care center, the incentives can be significant.

  • Medicare: Eligible professionals for the EHR Incentive Program can receive up to $44,000 over a five-year period. Additional incentives may be available for providers in health shortage areas (HSPAs). Hospitals also are eligible for incentive payments -- starting with a $2 million base payment -- if certain factors are met. Registration and participation for Medicare-eligible professionals must begin now -- in 2012. And meaningful use does not have to be demonstrated until 2015, so there’s time to meet those criteria.
  • Medicaid: Providers eligible for Medicaid payments can receive up to $63,750, even though the program is voluntary and provided at the state or territory level. If you have questions about incentives, contact your state Medicaid agency for assistance. Find your state on the list from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

However, benefits can mean more than just cash. With EHRs, healthcare providers also can see gains in patient care.

In a recent case study, Tom Hornburg, IT director at Mason General Hospital, said, “Technology makes patient care more efficient, making for better outcomes. We’ll be able to meet all of the Stage 1 criteria for Meaningful Use that HITECH requires... and we’ll receive the maximum reimbursement in stimulus funds.”

And Mason General has seen other benefits. Server virtualization has eliminated hardware maintenance downtime. The datacenter enjoys easy deployment for new servers. A bonus: Less physical space is needed for the couple of servers it needs to run its 40 virtual machines.

But the time efficiencies have been the best -- for the hospital and the patients.

“More timely access to information directly impacts patient care, because we’re able to view trends and benchmarks and react faster,” Hornburg said.

That’s where the benefits of using EHRs are visible. And having extra funds to help pay for EHRs doesn’t hurt either.

Learn more:
Read how IT efficiency saved an hour and a half each day for Mason General Hospital’s ER users in a related post: In the ER, IT Efficiency Matters.

Take the next step:
To speak with an expert on health IT solutions, contact Dell Healthcare.

Follow me (@DianaAtDell) on Twitter.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
DianaOAtDell   HITECH Act’s Incentives Can Help Providers Improve Patient Care   3/30/2012 5:42:27 PM
Re: Common or Uncommon Compliance?
Hello:

You post a very good question about getting reliable information. There are several options you might try. For dependabilty, my suggestion is to stick with the government agencies that work with the HITECH Act rules. 

  • One of the best sources I found when researching this blog postig was at CMS.gov. CMS.gov has created lots of online materials that may help your organization. They also offer training and training materials. Go to http://www.cms.gov and search on "HITECH" to retrieve a list of documents related to the HITECH Act. 
  • More information is availble at http://www.healthit.hhs.gov/programs. If you don't find what you are looking for, call the agency directly and see if someone can point you to the resource you need. 
  • You can also contact the office of your congressional representative and ask them to help you find a source, if you havent found what you need from the agencies directly. 


Good luck! 

Diana 

 
Paul - WI Government   HITECH Act’s Incentives Can Help Providers Improve Patient Care   3/30/2012 4:46:15 PM
Re: Common or Uncommon Compliance?
Hello Diana,

Is there a "dependable" source for dates for HITECH disclosure functionality?  We have no EHR system, but are working to implement one.  Is 1/1/13 the date that we need to hit, or can it be the day that we implement the EHR? 
DianaOAtDell   HITECH Act’s Incentives Can Help Providers Improve Patient Care   3/15/2012 5:51:23 PM
Re: Common or Uncommon Compliance?
Thanks for the good comments! From what I have read, only about bewteen 48% and 51% (depending on the source) of healthcare providers are in a place where they are ready to meet enough HITECH Act requirements to get compensation. Most of the expert discussions around this issue point to concerns with meeting security requirements that need to be in place for HITECH compliance. To further add to the workload, healthcare providers are also dealing with new HIPPA rules deadlines, some of which were due by January of this year, and others, such as the new ICD-10 coding requirements, must be in place by October 2013. This is a very busy time for our healthcare providers, but I hope the majority can do what is necessary to take advantage of the breaks created by the HITECH Act. 
Broadway   HITECH Act’s Incentives Can Help Providers Improve Patient Care   3/14/2012 10:57:12 PM
Common or Uncommon Compliance?
@Diana, fascinating blog. Thank you for explaining the benefits of HITECH compliance-- legislative and operational. Quick question for you: what's your sense for the proportion of healthcare organizations that are prepared for 2013 and poised to reap the benefits of early compliance?


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