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EHR Mandate, HIPAA Privacy Violations, EHR Companies, Benefits of EMR and EHR and more

Posted on June 5, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As most long time readers know, I’m a bit of a stats fanatic when it comes to my website. I love to see the internal numbers of what’s happening on my website. In fact, you might remember that I’ve wondered why I’m not as interested in my “health numbers.” Although, I actually am interested. I love getting my cholesterol value after giving blood. I’m using my scale more and more (with sad, but motivating results). The real challenge is that we need personal health data to be as easily created and tracked as website health data, but I digress.

I thought it would be fun to look over the past 3 months on EMR and HIPAA and see which pages and posts are the most popular. Plus, I’ll add some commentary or updates on each.

The most visited posts in the last 3 months was my post on the 2014 EHR Mandate. When you look at the searches I get referred to EMR and HIPAA, you can see why this page has been so popular. I’m actually really glad that doctors get this page since it does a great job describing how there isn’t an EHR mandate. Although, there are incentives, penalties and reasons why you might want to implement an EHR. I’m sure that post has done a lot to dispel the myth of the EHR mandate.

The next most popular post is my very old post on HIPAA Privacy Violations & HIPAA Lawsuits. I expect the reason it’s so popular is that many clinics are worried about HIPAA and any issues they may have with it. Plus, it’s kind of like a car crash, you can’t resist taking a look to see what’s happened. Those two factors make for great blog reading.

My next two most popular pages are both lists of EMR and EHR companies. The second list is from a post on the overwhelming list of EMR and EHR companies I did back in early 2006, but it’s still amazingly popular. A lot has changed since 2006 in the EHR world. It’s fun to look through the list and see which EHR software is still around and see some old names of companies that are no longer with us. One thing that remains the same is the list of EMR and EHR vendors is still overwhelming. Although, maybe that has changed. The list of EMR and EHR vendors might be more overwhelming today than it was in 2006.

I’m really glad to see that so many people are reading my list of EMR & EHR benefits page. Far too many practices have put on their Meaningful Use blinders that they forget to look at the reasons that physicians were implementing EHR software before the government waived $36 billion in front of their face. There are some guaranteed benefits to EHR including: legibility of patient charts and Accessibility of Charts. It’s hard to put a dollar value on those, but they are incredibly valuable.

Another popular post was about Email Not Being HIPAA Secure. The next most popular post after it is ironically “HIPAA Lawsuit – PHI by Un-encrypted Email.” I think many doctors have appreciated the insight about various technologies and how to satisfy HIPAA. Another in that series is the Texting is Not HIPAA Secure.

The final post I’ll look at in this round up is called Example of EMR Stimulus Medicare Penalties. Those EHR penalties are looming and I think this post provides some good perspective and understanding on how big the EHR penalties are for a practice. Sure, each practice needs to add in their own Medicare numbers, but that’s simple math.

No EMR Mandate in HITECH or ACA – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on April 16, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’m going to veer off a little bit from the regular Meaningful Use Monday topics to cover something that I think needs to get more coverage and is related to the EHR incentive money and meaningful use. Let me start by making something extremely clear:

There is NO EMR mandate. There is NO EHR mandate.

For those of you who want a broader post on the subject, you should read my post from a little over a year ago about the 2014 EHR Mandate. The key is that there’s no EHR mandate and no one is going to put an EHR mandate in place. Certainly there are incentives to use EHR and penalties if you don’t use EHR, but that’s not a mandate.

For those that don’t want to click to the full post above, in it I give five other reasons to implement EHR and an explanation of each. These reasons together could feel like a mandate. Here they are:
* Ability to Sale Practice
* Government Mandated Reporting
* Reimbursement Requirements
* Patients
* ROI for Your Practice

I’m sure that people are still confused on this subject. In just the past 7 days, this website has gotten 250+ people searching terms related to EHR mandate. A lot of people are starting to get concerned about what they’re hearing on the street about EHR. Will this fear of an “EHR Mandate” push many into EHR adoption?

HITECH and Obamacare (ACA)
Related to this mandate for EHR, many people are also confused by the EHR incentive money and the supreme court case for Obamacare. Many people confuse Obamacare, otherwise known as ACA, with the HITECH act (which was part of the ARRA legislation).

What you need to know is that when 99% of people talk about EHR incentive money, meaningful use, EHR mandates, EHR penalties, etc, they are talking about ARRA and more specifically the HITECH act. ARRA and the HITECH act aren’t going before the supreme court and so they’re not at risk. ARRA and HITECH could be affected if the republicans win the Presidency, Congress and the House, but most people argue that HITECH is pretty bipartisan. Although, that’s a topic for another post.

ACA is what’s gone before the supreme court and we’re awaiting a ruling. If ACA is declared unconstitutional, then there will be some affect on healthcare IT programs in general but most EMR programs won’t be affected.

EMR Under Construction (Implementation) Sign

Posted on September 22, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I saw a tweet of a picture from the front desk of a doctor’s office that’s implementing an Electronic Medical Record in their office. I’ll embed the image below, but since it’s a little hard to read, here’s the text from the sign:

UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Pardon us while we improve your visit.

In order to provide you with the most efficient visit possible, MedExpress is installing an EMR (Electronic Medical Records) system.

This technology enables MedExpress to provide you even more convenient care, and ensures that your records will hold more accurate documentation, in a safer, more concisely stored location.

By 2012, it is federally mandated that healthcare providers initiate electronic health records. MedExpress is keeping up with the current health information technology. In addition, this promotes “green practices” to lower our paper usage.

Please bear with us, as we are currently in training with this system.

This sign brings up a lot of interesting talking points. The first one that hits me is back about 5 years ago when I heard someone propose (mostly jokingly) the idea of having a “Got EMR?” sign for offices. This isn’t quite the same, but does use some of the same idea of the value of EHR to patients.

I’ll set aside the part of the sign that talks about the government EHR mandate since we’ve talked about it plenty of times before (and how it’s not really a mandate). I’ll also avoid commenting on the “green practices” section of the sign, but it’s amazing how green has infiltrated marketing.

Instead, does anyone else find it amazing that the anticipated slow down for this clinic’s EHR implementation was so big that they typed and printed up a sign explaining the slow down? Maybe it’s just during the time that the doctors are training and not actually a slow down that has to do with actual use of the EHR after training. Although, I know many EHR vendors that are now rolling their eyes when they hear about the EHR training and implementation time and its effect on physician productivity.

I can’t help but wonder which EHR software this clinic is implementing. That would be interesting to know.

2014 EHR Mandate

Posted on January 13, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I have often found doctors talking about the 2014 mandate for adoption of EHR software. In fact, this post was inspired by a bunch of people searching online for the term “2014 EHR Mandate.” I think that they found my site because I previously did this post about Obama’s goal of Full EHR adoption by 2014.

If I’m remembering right, this was actually just an extension of Bush’s goal of having 100% EHR adoption by 2014. Obama took Bush’s original EMR aspiration and kept it going.

Although, I do have a real problem with people who like to call it an EHR mandate. It’s really not a mandate. A mandate for me implies that you are required to do it or there’s some grave consequence to it. It’s not like you’re going to be thrown in jail for not using an EHR or not be able to practice medicine if you don’t use an EHR (although some have hinted at this idea). Certainly the HITECH act has provided some Medicare penalties that could be considered a grave consequence to not adopting an EHR. Although, when you consider this example of the Medicare penalties it doesn’t look all that grave of a concern to me.

What other penalties are there to not adopting an EHR by 2014?

There certainly are other potential issues with not adopting an EHR that are worth considering:
1. Ability to Sale Practice – I don’t think we know all the details of how this will play out, but be sure that many younger doctors are going to want to purchase a practice that has an EHR. The common thinking I’ve seen going around is that a practice will be more valuable if it is electronic.

2. Government Mandated Reporting – While the government can’t really mandate the use of an EHR, it seems reasonable that the government could require certain reporting be done. Of course, you could manually do this reporting, but at some point the manual way will be much harder than using an EMR where the reporting can be automated.

3. Reimbursement Requirements – At some point the insurance companies are going to require their data electronically. So, if you’re going to want to keep accepting insurance, then you’re going to need to be electronic. I think the insurance companies are still watching and waiting to see what happens with meaningful use before they decide how they’ll approach it. However, you can be sure that they want more data and electronic is the way to make that happen. Of course, you could always go back to cash pay if you don’t like it.

4. Patients – It hasn’t happened quite yet, but get ready for a new patient base that wants their doctor to be electronic. No, you won’t have a “Got EMR?” sign outside your office to market to patients like we once talked about on EMRUpdate. It will come in more subtle things like the ability to schedule an appointment online. The ability to request refill requests electronically. Not having to carry (and possibly lose) their prescription to the pharmacy and then wait for it to be filled. Not having to fill out the same paperwork over and over and over again. Once patients get a real taste for these features, they’re going to be more selective in the doctors they choose to use.

5. ROI for Your Practice – There are plenty of arguments for and against the use of an EMR from an ROI perspective. I personally side on the positive ROI side based on this list of potential EMR benefits. Certainly it takes a smart EMR selection process and a well done EMR implementation to achieve the ROI, but I know a lot of people who’ve saved a lot of money thanks to their EMR. Add in things to come like doctor liability insurance discounts and the ROI will get even better over time. I know one practice who was having tough times financially. Their implementation of an EHR helped to solve some of those financial issues.

I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons that could “force” you to move to using an EMR. Of course, this CDC study on EHR adoption says Physician EMR use is at 50%. Although, in that link I use their study to show that it’s probably closer to 25% EHR adoption. Either way, we still have a long way to go to achieve Obama’s dream of 100% EHR adoption by 2014.