Posted by: AllinHIT
There is no surprise here, insurers Highmark, Wellpoint, UnitedHealth and Aetna have announced they will give incentives to physicians that adopt EHR’s under the HITECH Meaningful Use umbrella. I say its no surprise because it only makes sense! Lets look at the logic, 32 million insured people estimated to come into the health delivery system, because of health reform, will undoubtly have conditions that need to be managed. Hence, in order to reduce costs by preventing hospitalizations, disease states , evidence-based healthcare will be crucial. Considering that 80% of physician practices, and 90% of hospitals are still on paper, you can’t enforce an evidence based delivery system with paper charts!
Lets take a look at a couple other logical points. Insurers will also have increased costs because of Health Reform, for the mere fact that in 2014, they can not discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions. Those with these conditions, individuals, small businesses, and even members of Congress, will access competitive insurance exchanges, giving them coverage from private insurers. Who will those private insurers be? It doesn’t take an einstein moment to come up with this answer. Insurers will want physicians to manage these pre-existing conditions, avoiding episodic events, hence lowering the cost. The management tool needed is EHR technologies combined with claims data, offering a complete picture of a persons health, and possible gaps of service. My last logical point is that insurers are diversifying their business models by investing in technology companies and products. UnitedHealth’s Ingenix unit will be offering a cloud application for community health centers. Aetna’s ActiveHealth is partnering with IBM, offering their “cloud” solution, giving physicians access to a best of breed CDSS application. It only makes sense that they give incentives for using these technologies that they are investing in.
Finally, I applaud the insurers for jumping on the EHR incentive bandwagon. I’ve learned that just because something makes sense to do, doesn’t mean its always done! The challenge now will be to address the those who are concerned about what they will do with all that data? We’ll talk about that at another time!