Two EMR Stimulus Questions

Posted on December 7, 2009 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’ve get all sorts of interesting emails sent to me because of this site. Many people send me questions and as much as I can I try to answer them. In fact, it’s usually quite fun if I have the time. This time someone sent a couple interesting questions about the EMR stimulus money and their practice which already uses a non CCHIT EMR. I thought the 2 questions she asked might be of interest to other readers of this site and so I’ve copied the EMR stimulus questions and answer below.

Our medical practice has been using a non CCHIT EMR software prior to the stimulus plan. Can my doctors still qualify for the incentive?
Absolutely!! CCHIT certification does NOT matter anymore for EMR stimulus money. Instead what matters is that the EMR is HHS Certified (or whatever name HHS comes up with for their EHR certification criteria). There will be a number of EHR certification bodies (likely including CCHIT) that will be prepared to certify your EMR against whatever criteria is put together by HHS (although technically I think it’s CMS that does this dirty work). They have a deadline of the end of the year to put out the details of what the criteria will involve.

Also, there has been some discussion of the possibility of an EHR “site certification” Basically, even if your EMR software chooses not to become certified, you could possibly get your “site” EHR certified. It’s too early to see exactly how this part of it will play out, but it’s been proposed and I think is likely to happen.

Also, how will Medicare know whether or not a practice is using an EMR software if they are already billing electronically?
This is a good question for which we don’t know the entire answer. Hopefully when HHS releases the definition of what constitutes “meaningful use” (the other key word to get the EMR stimulus money) by the end of the year, we’ll have a better idea of how they’ll measure “meaningful use” in a clinic. My best guess is that it will include some set of reporting and possibly some demonstration of interoperability, but who knows what else they’ll come up with to measure it. Hopefully they’ll keep it as unobtrusive and meaningful as possible. However, this is government work.

Unfortunately, it’s still a bit of wait and see. The good news is that you might actually be in a better position than those that haven’t yet implemented an EMR.