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EHR Q&A: Is EMR or EHR a Requirement

Posted on April 14, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Brenda asked:
As a private OT clinic that does not contract with medicare/ medicaid, are we required to use electronic medical records? We do submit claims to private insurance companies electronically.

The short answer is no.

In fact, NO ONE is REQUIRED to use EMR whether they take Medicare or Medicaid. However, if you take Medicare or Medicaid, then you have to be a “meaningful use” of a “certified EHR” in order to: 1. Get the EHR Incentive money and 2. Avoid the government penalties for not being a meaningful user of an EHR.

Some might argue that the work to show meaningful use is not worth the effort compared to the incentive money you receive. Plus, the penalties for not using an EHR are not that big of an issue (see this post on the EMR penalties ) Although, there are plenty of people arguing on the other side. For example, Meaningful Use is relatively easy (at least in Stage 1) and the penalties are going to be a major issue for their clinic since they have such a large Medicare or Medicaid population.

Then, there are the doctors that are leaving Medicare and Medicaid behind completely (see this doctor as an example). The argument here is that Medicare and Medicaid are the lowest paying payers out there and now they’re going to penalize them even more so they might as well just stop taking them. We’ll see how many adopt this strategy.

One word of Caution…
There’s a possibility that insurance companies will hop on board the requirement of an EHR and Meaningful Use (see this post about private insurance and meaningful use ). I’m sure they’re keeping a keen eye on how well it goes for the government before making any decisions. My gut feeling is still that they won’t wholesale take the governments approach to EHR and meaningful use. Instead, they may require some sort of electronic documentation or reporting requirements which are more easily performed with an EMR. Essentially it will be an extension of their requirement to have claims submitted electronically.

Despite the myth that EMR is a requirement, so far no one can require you to use an EMR. They can only provide incentives and penalties if you don’t (which only the government has done to this point). Although, there’s always the aspirational goal that Bush and Obama have made of Full EHR by 2014.

The longer answer is…EMR is not a Requirement….yet?

Be sure to check out all the EMR Stimulus Questions and Answers posts.

Zamzee: An Online Rewards Program Based on Physical Activity

Posted on I Written By

Childhood obesity is an epidemic that is raging across America and shows little sign of slowing down.  One major cause of this tragic sickness is the incredible growth of gaming in all of its many forms. 

But, what if there was a game that actually encouraged teenagers to get up and be active in any way that they find enjoyable?  That is exactly what Zamzee is shooting for.  They have developed an online rewards community that is totally based on its players being active.

Participants wear a small meter that is about the same size as a thumb drive for your computer.  The meter then tracks your activity throughout the day.  It could be as intentional as playing sports or going for a run, or as simple as dancing around in your bedroom, but any activity is good activity for you to progress in this community.

As your activity level increases you boost your status in the community and you can even convert your activity into currency which can then be spent in their online store.  Judging by the pictures on their site it looks like you can redeem your activity cash for items such as gift cards from major retailers. 

Based upon the popularity of games on sites such as Facebook where you earn nothing more than a shiny ribbon on your screen it seems incredibly likely that teenagers would be interested in earning actual prizes they could use.  The power of social networking is also likely to play into the success of this web-based application.

People love showing off anything and everything on Facebook and Twitter and this is likely to be just as prevalent when it comes to showing off how much activity you have participated in, and maybe more importantly for Zamzee’s success, how many prizes you have earned.

So how much will this game really help improve health?  During the tests that they performed, accounting for over 10,000 days wearing the Zamzee, they found that teenagers were 30% more active.  That is about the same as running an extra marathon every month, and that is quite an improvement.

The Zamzee is set to go out to the public sometime this year, and it will be interesting to see how well it catches on, but one thing is for sure: if it helps any kid or teenager get healthier then it is at least a few steps in the right direction.