Thursday, August 13, 2009

ARRA summary

With a vision for change, and an advocacy for healthcare President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This authorizes more than 19$ billion dollars for Healthcare information technology. As this sets the stage much needed incentives for healthcare organization to shift gears to adopt Electronic Healthcare Records, but unfortunately has received significant skepticism from many physicians.

As part of this stimulus plan, there are four requirements: Certified EHR, Information Exchange, Meaningful Use, and Reporting on clinical quality measures.

“Certified EHR": It is believed that the CCHIT will be the certification method of choice. In a recent announcement made by CCHIT Chair Mark Leavitt, there will be three paths to certification for vendors and health organizations. Applications will adhere to one of the following: EHR Comprehensive EHR -C, Certified HER Module EHR-M, or Certified Site EHR -S. These certifications vary in requirements. For example, to become EHR-M or EHR-S certified, your system will be required to have patient-physician PHR communication capabilities as well as an ability to exchange data with a certified HIE (Health Information Exchange).

“Information Exchange: It is important to note that there has been a significant emphasis on data exchange in the certification process. The purpose is to reduce healthcare costs and medical errors by promoting care coordination. This means that for any services provided to a patient that would like there data to be shared across a community based HIE or National HIE, this information must be available to other participating health organizations with the appropriate access. This includes SSA, CMS and other federal or state entities.

The next requirement is “Meaningful Use”, while recently a document has been released with some outlines of the “Meaningful Use Matrix” from the HIT Policy Committee. Everyone is still awaiting a final definition of “Meaningful Use”. One thing to keep in mind regardless of the details of this requirement is that physicians may need to make few adjustments on how data is reported as well as recorded.

Finally, reporting on clinical quality measures is the last requirements in the ARRA. It is stated that the eligible professional must be able to submit clinical data in a form and manner specified by the Secretary, on such clinical quality measures and such other measures as selected by the Secretary.

Physicians and other health organization must thoroughly examine the ARRA in great details, and all the changing environments surrounding them. Many have already successfully adopted electronic prescription, computerized physician order entry CPOE, patients using online PHR and all the possible potential adjustments surrounding the insurance reform. Taking the right steps forward will require careful planning and assessment.


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