The Health Care Industry is focusing on ways to provide better service to patients and cut cost for all entities involved. One of the major pushes for improving the quality and cost of health care has been the movement toward better Health IT.
Health IT is defined as “providing the umbrella framework to describe the comprehensive management of health information and its secure exchange between consumers, providers, government and quality entities, and insurers.” The advances in Health Care Information Technology Software aim to improve health care quality, prevent medical errors, reduce cost, decrease paperwork, and more.
The Health Care Industry has made significant strides in their technology with the development of electronic prescribing and electronic medical records (EMR). Electronic Prescribing is the ability to send error-free, accurate, and understandable prescriptions electronically from the provider to the pharmacy. EMR is a computerized history of patient health information. EMR’s are housed on health information systems that allow storage, retrieval and manipulation of records by health care providers. These electronic capabilities have proved to assist in the goals of improving health care quality by decreasing medical errors and reducing costs.
Health Insurance providers are expected to see major benefits from the ePrescribing and EMR programs. For instance, Medicare could “save up to $156 million over the five-year course of the program due to avoided adverse drug events.” Another area to benefit is doctors. Studies have proved that doctors using ePrescribing software “save about $0.70 per patient per month, which translates to $845,000 annually for each 100,000 insured patients filling prescriptions.
If the direct cost-saving benefits do not entice health care providers enough, they also receive savings through many of the health acts and services currently in place. Incentives are given to those that participate in ePrescribing software and Electronic Medical Records, and in future years penalties will be given to those that do not participate.
Examples of incentives are through the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), the Health Information Technology for Economics and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). They both offer a bonus for those that participate in the electronic medical record and/or the e-prescribing programs.
MIPPA has designed a year by year percent bonus for ePrescribing participants and a year by year penalty for non ePrescribing participants. Starting in 2009, they rewarded 2% and took no penalty. This year (2010) they will also reward 2% and take no penalty. In 2011, MIPPA will reward 1% with still no penalty. In 2012 the penalty begins. They will still reward 1% to participants but will also begin penalizing non participants at 1%. In 2013 the rates move to 0.5% reward and 1.5% penalty. Beyond 2013, those participating in electronic prescribing programs will not receive an incentive but if you choose not to participate you will be hit with a 2% penalty.
The ARRA HITECH incentives deal more with EMR’s or EHR’s (Electronic Health Records) but also include eprescribing. President Obama signed this act into law in February 2009. Medical professionals who provide Medicare and Medicaid Services as well as EMR’s are eligible to receive as much as $44,000 in incentives.
MIPPA and ARRA HITECH are just two examples of the many incentive programs that the government has approved. Health care providers that do not participate in electronic prescribing and electronic health records miss out on these as well as the ROI and cost savings. And, this is just the beginning. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services is continuing to put efforts toward Healthcare Information Technology Software and developments. It is the wave of the future- the sooner you jump on the better.