The current version of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which is part of the larger economic stimulus legislation, will alter the HIT industry and the IT plans of our organizations.
For outpatient electronic health records, the Act puts some non-trivial money on the table. A provider who uses a certified EHR can get a maximum (through Medicare) of:
This totals $41,000. This will clearly increase interest in adoption and could represent a lot of revenue for a provider organization.
To get this money, a provider must demonstrate that they are meaningfully using health information technology. What does "meaningfully" mean?
- Using e-prescribing
- Connecting through HIEs to improve the quality and coordination of care
- Submitting information on clinical quality measures.
While we might be more or less clear about what e-prescribing means, clarification is clearly needed about what we mean by the second and third criteria.
It is anticipated that HHS will spend 2009 providing specifics and clarity about what providers have to do to demonstrate meaningful use. This means that most providers will have one year – 2010 – to finish EHR implementation and put in place the infrastructure, applications, training, etc. needed to get the as much of the incentive money as possible.
This is a tall order. And it means that providers should start moving now (if they aren’t already) even though the dust has yet to settle on the specifics.
John Glaser is vice president and CIO at Partners HealthCare System. He describes himself as an "irregular regular contributor" to HIStalk.