Tags: Healthcare Reform | medicare | health records | electronic | penalty

Medicare Cuts Await Doctors Without Electronic Health Records

By    |   Monday, 29 December 2014 07:48 AM

The Obama administration has been trying since 2011 to increase the use of electronic health records by healthcare providers — offering a combination of carrots and sticks for those who are reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid.

Now, Congress is weighing action that would protect physicians who treat Medicare patients from being penalized for not moving fast enough in their use of electronic medical records, Politico reported.

If no action is taken, some 257,000 doctors who can't prove they have made "meaningful" progress to integrate electronic health records into their practices could see their reimbursements from Medicare reduced by 1 percent next year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Most office-based doctors are already using some form of computerized medical records, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Nearly all hospitals now use electronic records.

The administration would like to see upward of $30 billion invested in digitizing the country's medical records, according to Politico.

While $9 billion has been distributed to encourage computerization of medical records among doctors who treat Medicaid patients, just how many physicians are actually digitized is not known, according to Politico.

Switching over to electronic medical records makes healthcare more efficient, Politico reported. It is easier to read what doctors write and — at least in theory — medical data can be shared by various practitioners treating the same patient.

Patient follow-up could be improved, particularly for those newly discharged from the hospital.

The downside for doctors is that they spend more time typing their notes. Some have hired medical scribes to enter physician-patient encounters into electronic charts, according to Politico.

Electronic medical records also aren't necessarily compatible across platforms, positioning some vendors to charge exorbitant fees for transmitting data between doctors, health providers like labs, and the government's reimbursement bureaucracy, Politico reported.

Encouraging a seamless interface is now a federal information technology priority — though HHS has yet to mandate that vendors equip their software with a single programming interface.

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to spend $11 billion designing a digital system that would allow such an interface, so that VA treatment facilities would have access to the active-duty medical histories of veterans, Politico reported.

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Some 257,000 doctors who can't prove they have made "meaningful" progress to integrate electronic health records into their practices could see their reimbursements from Medicare reduced by 1 percent next year, The Wall Street Journal reports.
medicare, health records, electronic, penalty
360
2014-48-29
Monday, 29 December 2014 07:48 AM
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