Resource Center: Meaningful use of EHR technology

Resource Center: Meaningful use of EHR technology

The HITECH Act of 2009 requires health care organizations to demonstrate the meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) technology by 2015. By forcing providers to adopt EHR, this mandate, which was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, intends to improve care quality while reducing waste in an industry where up to one-third of spending is unnecessary.

Under the HITECH Act, hospitals and eligible providers receive financial incentives for demonstrating the meaningful use of EHR. The earlier they do so, the more money they receive. There are separate programs, with differing eligibility, for providers who participate in Medicare or Medicaid. Providers who cannot show the meaningful use of EHR technology by 2015 are subject to reduced federal reimbursements for providing care.

Achieving the meaningful use of EHR is not easy, though. Doing so requires the use of certified EHR software. While there are plenty of such systems on the market -- hundreds at present, and thousands in a matter of time -- choosing the system that most closely matches an organization's clinical workflow and implementing it without significant disruptions to patient care can be a tremendous challenge. What's more, in most cases the money provided through the government's EHR Incentive Programs will barely cover the cost of EHR implementation, let alone system maintenance or any IT infrastructure upgrades necessary to accommodate the new software.

This Resource Center takes a close look at the meaningful use of EHR, from the final rule that established the EHR Incentive Programs and the meaningful use criteria to the planning and know-how that providers need.

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