HITECH Act to Mandate Gradual Shift to EMR in Medical Industry

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The shift from traditional to electronic medical records is now starting to become mandatory with the passing of the HITECH Act. The HITECH Act, according to the website called EMR News, may help improve the safety and security of medical recordkeeping systems, and especially electronic medical records (EMRs).

EMR - Electronic Medical Records

The HITECH Act is to be implemented for a period of five years, in order to give time to the numerous health care providers that are found all over the United States.

According to a physical therapist and international marketing expert Nitin Chhoda, the HITECH Act provides incentives to health providers especially physical therapists that make the transition to EMR (electronic medical record) systems. Specifically, a healthcare provider that makes the decision to switch to electronic systems could be awarded as much as $44,000 in financial assistance to make that transition possible. This is on top of the other financial benefits to be reaped from making the switch, such as cuts in expenses related to workers’ salaries as the EMR (electronic medical record) will reduce the manpower needed to maintain records.

The HITECH Act is to be implemented for a period of five years, in order to give time to the numerous health care providers that are found all over the United States. However, healthcare companies are encouraged to make the transition to EMR (electronic medical record) as soon as they could. This is because, even though incentives will be present for the five years that the Act is to be implemented, each passing year in which they delay in implementing an EMR (electronic medical record) will result to lower incentives under the Act.

Penalties will also be imposed upon healthcare providers that fail to make the switch to EMR (electronic medical record) systems within three years. Failure to implement electronic medical records systems in their practice by 2015 will result to a 1% reduction in Medicare fees. The reduction will be increased to 3% and %5 on 2017 and 2019, respectively.

Of course, transitioning from traditional pen-and-paper and file cabinets to computer networks and data systems under the EMR (electronic medical record) program can be tricky and difficult without expert help. Aside from providing financial assistance, the HITECH Act also provided means for healthcare providers to seek out technical help in implementing the change needed.

There are 70 regional centers throughout the United States that healthcare providers can approach for help. These centers provide assistance in coming up with a cost-effective solution for the provider, as each of these “providers select the highest-value option, defined as that which offers the most favorable cost of ownership and operation, including both the initial acquisition of technology, cost and implementation, and ongoing maintenance and predictable needed upgrades over time.”

Finally, the HITECH Act states that implementing an EMR (electronic medical record) must be accomplished in three phases. First phase is the implementation of the basic architecture. The second phase requires lab test results to be disseminated and recorded through the EMR (electronic medical record). The final phase of the Act mandates fully electronic patient enrollment, and requires data providers to give healthcare providers full access to patient records for information purposes.

Chhoda’s office can be reached by phone at 201-535-4475. For more information, visit the website at http://www.emrnews.com.

Nitin Chhoda PT, DPT is a licensed physical therapist, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and an entrepreneur. He is the author of "Physical Therapy Marketing For The New Economy" and “Marketing for Physical Therapy Clinics” and is a prolific speaker, writer and creator of products and systems to streamline medical billing and coding, electronic medical records, health care practice management and marketing to increase referrals. He has been featured in numerous industry magazines, major radio and broadcast media, and is the founder of Referral Ignition training systems and the annual Private Practice Summit. Chhoda speaks extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Asia. He is also the creator of the Therapy Newsletter and Clinical Contact, both web-based services to help private practices improve communication with patients, delivery better quality of care and boost patient retention.

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