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Electronic Health Records
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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which was signed into law on February 17, 2009, provides more than $19 billion in HIT investment and creates financial incentives for Health Information Technology (HIT) adoption by health care professionals participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs. Under ARRA, two key concepts determine whether eligible professionals qualify for HIT incentive payments:
  
  • Physicians must make “meaningful use” of HIT, and 
  • Physicians must use a qualified or certified electronic health record. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its final rule on the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program (EHR), which implements the ARRA provisions (also known as the HITECH Act). The purpose of the EHR incentive program is not so much the adoption of HIT, but rather to explore how HIT can further the goals of improving health outcomes. This is the concept of meaningful use. An eligible physician will be considered a meaningful EHR user if he/she meets three requirements:
  • Uses certified EHR technology in a meaningful manner; i.e. computerized physician order entry (CPOE)
  • Participates in electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of care, and 
  • Submits information on clinical quality measures to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) (or to a state if a Medicaid program). 

EHR / EMR Resources

New Interactive Resource to Determine Timeline for Participation in the EHR Incentive Programs
The My EHR Participation Timeline is an interactive tool that allows physicians to determine what year they will meet Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3 of meaningful use in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. It also provides information on the length of time required to demonstrate meaningful use at each stage and the total incentive payment amount physicians will receive based on their initial year of participation.

Attesting for Meaningful Use? Make Hard Copies Before You Click “Send.”
CMS is randomly auditing physician practices that attest to meaningful use as part of the EHR Incentive Program, so be sure to keep a copy of your attestation documents. Visit the CMS Registration and Attestation page to download the Attestation User Guide; pages 54 and 56 explain what to print.

EHR Implementation Step-By-Step guide
A comprehensive guide to EMR implementation from HealthIT.gov.

California Regional Extension Centers
Contact your Regional Extension Center for help with questions about EHR and meaningful use.

KLAS Research
Ratings for EMR/AHR Systems.  KLAS is an independent company that aggregates user satisfaction data for health IT products and services. By registering for a free account with KLAS, you can access user performance ratings for various ambulatory EHR/EMR systems. Get started by visiting the KLAS website.

EHR Incentive Program
Visit the EHR Incentive Program Registration and Attestation System to get started, or use the Meaningful Use Attestation Calculator to find out if you would qualify as a meaningful EHR user.  

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