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Could Telehealth Provide Savings for Medicare?

Posted on September 19, 2011 I Written By

As we get into the heated debates of the upcoming presidential election, the biggest area of debate will be the same topic that breaks up businesses and marriages, and leads others to great success: Money.  Sure that is simplifying something that is far more complex than me paying my bills, but in reality is it that different?

When you don’t have money you don’t spend it, and when you want/need more money you come up with ways to earn more, or you cut spending in one area to pay for another.  A new study suggests that telehealth may be able to provide a 10%, or more, reduction in healthcare costs for chronically ill patients.

According to an article at CardiovascularBusiness.com doctors were able to reduce spending between 7.7% and 13.3% per person, per quarter using the Health Buddy Program.  While that only equates to about $300-500 per person, per quarter, when you consider the huge number of people using Medicare that could translate to massive savings.

According to the article 80% of US healthcare spending goes towards treating chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, and COPD.  Now imagine lowering those costs by about 10% and you see the magnitude of influence this could have.

The Health Buddy Program involves giving patients a small handheld device that they use to input metrics such as weight, blood pressure, and other information tied to their diagnosis.  This allows doctors to respond more efficiently and effectively to changes in the patient’s health saving everyone time and money.

As I listen to news reports about the billions of dollars going to healthcare, and how in debt our country is I can’t help but wonder why we aren’t more actively pursuing ideas like this.  Americans are some of the most ingenious people on earth so why aren’t we taking advantage of that brilliance to solve these problems instead of leaving them with politicians who have lost touch with reality?

I can’t think of a single business on earth that would not gladly reduce spending by 10% while still operating at the same level.  The technology is out there if we will just take advantage of it.

Exemption from 2012 eRx penalties: The Process is Now in Place – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

The Final Rule on ePrescribing was published in the Federal Register on September 6. This is the rule that adds new categories under which some providers can request a hardship exemption from the 2012 (1%) ePrescribing penalties, and it eliminates some of the discrepancies between the Medicare ePrescribing rule and ARRA. (See Meaningful Use Monday June 6.)The only change from the Proposed Rule is the deadline for filing a request—it has been extended to November 1, 2011 (from October 1). Providers should file as early as possible, however, to minimize the number of claims that have to be reprocessed. 

Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. To submit a request for exemption:

  • Access the exemption request form on CMS’ QualityNet website www.qualitynet.org/pqrs
  • In the “Related Links” box on the upper left, click on “Communication Support Page”, which will display the online form
  • Provide identifying info (TIN, NPI, name, address, etc.)
  • Indicate which hardship category applies
  • Submit a justification statement explaining how ePrescribing represents a significant hardship
  • Attest to the accuracy of the information submitted. 

Craft your argument thoughtfully. There is no appeal process—the decision of CMS is final.