Feature | May 19, 2009| Dave Fornell

What the Federal Stimulus Package Means for Healthcare

The federal government has made it known for years it was interested in overhauling the American healthcare system and its desire to migrate to electronic medical records (EMRs). The key issue with EMRs has been funding, and it would take a lot to make a nationwide-wide effort to bring healthcare into an interoperable, computerized state. Currently less than 40 percent of healthcare providers in the U.S. currently use an EMR system, and even fewer can connect patient information from their systems into those of other providers.

However, with the downturn in the economy came the stimulus package, officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). President Obama signed the legislation in February and it essentially offers a New Deal program for healthcare. ARRA includes a variety of provisions intended to assist in the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of information. It also provides $19 billion in incentives for the “meaningful use” of certified EMR technology, utilizing both bonuses and penalties under Medicare and Medicaid. If there is any doubt what this means to healthcare, it is the beginning of a new electronic, interconnected U.S. healthcare system.

The law firm of Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal LLP specializes in healthcare and recently focused on ARRA’s impact. Bruce M. Fried, J.D., and Lauren Mack, J.D., from the firm spoke on ARRA at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in April in Chicago.
“There are still enormous amounts of work that need to be done,” Fried said, explaining while the money is set aside, the agencies responsible for distributing it need to develop regulations to govern how it is spent.

“As we think about what we plan to do with this money, keep in mind there will be more,” Fried added. He said ARRA is a down payment and future federal budgets will likely contain more funding for the expansion of EMRs.

“Healthcare IT is a fundamental tool to help reform healthcare,” he said. Eventually, he said the IT will enable pay-for-performance, and influence reimbursements and incentives.

Mack said there is a benefit to getting into the technology early, as the government will offer higher reimbursements to providers who are “meaningful users” of EMRs starting in 2011, and penalties for those who are not starting in 2015.

EMR systems that are adopted need to meet some basic criteria to receive funding. The system must be certified to show it meets or exceeds industry standards, which is currently done by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT). The system needs to offer information exchange between systems (meeting HL7 and DICOM standards for interoperability) to help improve and better coordinate patient care. The EMR needs a reporting system to show the provider is meeting clinical quality standards or guidelines, such as those set by ACC. The provider must demonstrate meaningful use of the technology, which will almost certainly include use of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) for prescriptions, clinical decision support and quality outcomes reporting. However, specific government policies have yet to been written explaining the definitions of meaningful use, interoperability, certification and what specific quality measures need to be followed.

“If you haven’t read the legislation, there are a lot of details,” Fried said. You have to read the underlying legislation. While we don’t have the regulations, if you read the legislation you will get a pretty good idea of what regulators will be dealing with.”

He suggests providers start preparing today by figuring out what projects are needed to make an EMR system operational to government standards. This may include working with your vendors to ensure technology already in place will meet new regulations. If you are working on a contract with a vendor for a new EMR project, he suggests including provisions that their technology meets and continues to conform to any new regulations. An inventory of technology currently on hand and gaps that need to be connected is also useful, Fried said.

Related Content

Sci-image, Scimage, CVIS, CIIMS, Cpacs c-pacs, cardiovascular information system

Today's cardiovascular information systems need to incorporate all facets of the cardiology department, including subspecialties, to allow a complete picture of a patient's record. These data also need to be able to be shared with enterprise data systems, such as the electronic medical record (EMR). This image is from ScImage, illustrating the various aspects that integrate to make up a complete CVIS. 

 

Feature | September 29, 2016 | Val Kapitula, RT(R), PMP, CIIP
Cardiovascular Information and Imaging Systems (CVIS) have existed for many years in the dedicated sub-specialty area
ACC, American College of Cardiology, Google search, heart conditions, Health Knowledge Graphs
News | Information Technology| September 23, 2016
A Google search for heart conditions will now prominently display important questions patients should ask their doctor...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Inventory Management| September 21, 2016
With bundled payments putting increased pressure on hospitals to manage supply costs while providing quality patient
Dr Bertolet
Sponsored Content | Webinar | Cardiac PACS| September 16, 2016
Managing care across multiple facilities and care settings is made more difficult when images and data are managed an
don woodlock, GE Healthcare, EP CVIS, electrophyiology
Sponsored Content | Webinar | Cardiac PACS| September 16, 2016
Cardiac rhythm management (CRM) data is becoming increasingly important in the management of patients with implantabl
AMA, American Medical Association study, EMRs, electronic medical records, physician burnout
News | Electronic Medical Records (EMR)| September 07, 2016
Technological and administrative obstacles are significantly cutting into available time for physicians to engage with...
CVIS, IntelliSpace cardiovascular, Cardiac PACS, cardiology information system, Philips

A Delaware hospital implemented IntelliSpace Cardiovascular to allow for administrative reporting beyond the echo lab at levels not previously capable with its earlier system.

Sponsored Content | Case Study | Cardiac PACS| September 06, 2016
With any new system implementation in a healthcare system, there is a fear of downtime and potential adverse impact o
HIE, health information exchanges, participation strategy, Binghamton University
News | Information Technology| August 18, 2016
The U.S. healthcare industry has failed to create and sustain an efficient network for storing and sharing patient...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Inventory Management| August 15, 2016
Pacemakers, stents and bandages — keeping tracking of what is on hand and accurately capturing charges can be a chall
mobile health technology, mHealth, privacy and security, Computer magazine study
News | Mobile Devices| July 21, 2016
July 21, 2016 — A new paper published in the June issue of Computer cautions that while...
Overlay Init