In an effort to let doctors serve patients better and reduce healthcare costs, The Federal Government has enacted legislation stating that electronic medical records must be kept by all medical facilities. The legislation is currently in the process of going into effect.
The Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, states that medical offices must now demonstrate what is called “meaningful use” of electronic records in order to maintain their existing Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement levels. The point of the law is to let doctors make better diagnosis of patients by having the patient’s entire medical history, right at their fingertips.
Although, switching over to electronic records may seem like a daunting task, there are many other advantages to the plan. Patient care will be greatly improved with the ability for doctors all over the country to share records. Billing will be easier to keep a record of, because offices will have legible and complete documentation that facilitates accurate coding and billing. Compliant doctors will even be eligible for monetary incentives of up to $44,000 per physician under Medicare or up to $65,000 over 6 years under Medicaid.
If doctors are able to access a patient’s medical history via computer, they can avoid making a plethora of mistakes. For example, a doctor can avoid the problem of represcribing medicine that he or she can see hasn’t worked in the past.
There are a few drawback to the new law. As with any new system, there can be adoption and implementation costs and a loss of productivity while employees adapt themselves to the new system. New hardware and software has to be installed. If a physician doesn’t comply, he or she will face a 1% reduction in their Medicare reimbursement. This may not sound like much, but it can add up to a lot of money; especially for medical facilities located in economically disadvantaged areas.
In order to transition to the new system smoothly, and do so at a minimal cost, physicians will need the assistance of IT professionals who understand the needs of medical offices and HIPAA regulations such as what, exactly the term, “meaningful use” means.
One thing that a good IT company should be able to provide is a superior document imaging program. Document imaging can transfer all of your antiquated files to electronic ones.
When looking for document imaging it is very important to find a company that uses sophisticated software. A good imaging software company should be respected in the industry and provide the very clearest images, processed in a timely fashion and look the same whether you are viewing them on a laptop or Smart Phone.
In addition to finding an office that uses the highest caliber of software, it is very important to find an IT company that has experience dealing with medical offices and how they keep records. It is equally important to find an IT specialist that will have time to have a close relationship with the record keepers in the offices with whom they are working. The IT Specialist should understand the way the documents were previously organized in order to make the smoothest transition possible to electronic medical records.