Important Healthcare IT News on EHR, HITECH and ARRA Stimulus Funds

If you plan on leveraging the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) stimulus bill to influence medical practitioners to invest in EMR solutions, a significant milestone has been reached this week that will affect you.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Tuesday final rules to implement the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This act provides incentive payments to eligible practitioners, hospitals and critical access hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs that adopt and successfully demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) technology.

This is a significant event, as prior to this the requirements to qualify as "meaningful use" practitioners and hospitals were not finalized. These requirements have now been defined in stage 1 meaningful use (several revisions are expected) as:

  1. The use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner (e.g.: e-Prescribing)
  2. The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care
  3. The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other measures

In addition to this, and a requirement for "meaningful use", the standards and criteria for the certification of EHR technology has now been established in the final rule.

The absence of the final rule and these provisions can be attributed to the challenges faced by Healthcare IT Providers in influencing their prospects and customers to invest in EHR, EMR and Practice Management solutions. Medical practitioners that may be eager to adopt technology solutions that benefit their practices and patients need to know how they and the solutions they invest in can help them qualify to receive the incentive payments available under the stimulus bill.

But now that the final rule has been published, it poses a significant problem for Healthcare IT Providers and their qualifying prospects and customers – TIME.

A typical EHR/EMR solution may take up to 150 days or more to close. Because of the manner in which the incentives are paid out under the stimulus and in order for the elegible practitioner to receive the maximum $44,000 benefit (more for hospitals), they need to adopt a certified solution and prove meaningful use by 2011 or 2012. This means that there may be only 6 sales cycles available to providers and their practitioner customers in order for them to receive the maximum benefit.

This poses some interesting challenges, as both EMR solutions and elegible practioners and hospitals need to meet these established requirements within the established timelines, again in order to qualify for maxiumum incentive benefits. In addition, Healthcare IT Providers will need to be trained to sell, scope and implement these solutions effectively.

Do you feel that the timelines set by the stimulus bill to achieve maximum benefit for elegible practitioners provides a realistic opportunity for success? I welcome your comments and feedback.

For more information, click here for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Meaningful Use page.

Stay tuned to this blog for continuing updates and information on how MSP University's educational and training programs and services will help IT Solution and Managed Services Providers participate in the Healthcare IT opportunity.

Erick Simpson
MSP University
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Posted in: General Business, Industry Trends

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1 Comment

  1. Amy Clevidence July 20, 2010

    Healthcare providers have been hearing about incentive funding for the adoption of EHR technology for many months now. I believe many have been cautiously waiting for a formal definition of “meaningful use” before committing to investments into the technology. As a result in the delay of the finalization of these guidelines timelines for acquisition, implementation and proven use have undoubtedly been tightened.
    That said, those interested in reaping rewards from the program have had ample time to do their homework and begin preparing. If you’ve attended a healthcare conference in the last two years, you’ve found vendor halls saturated with EHR providers all touting their solution to be king.
    Like any other technology provider, EHR vendors (and those who resell these solutions) must be able to position their solution to meet the needs of the healthcare providers they seek to convert to clients while being able to prove the return on investment of their product. Vendors who have invested time in the last 12 – 18 months educating and communicating with their prospective clients about the benefits of this technology will find that closing deals, implementing the solution and proving its use for ARRA funding to be of a lesser challenge than those who are just starting to play the game now.