The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) named the Chicago-based Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) and The Drummond Group, Inc. of Austin, TX as the first technology review bodies authorized to test and certify EMR (electronic medical record) software and systems for compliance with the standards and certification criteria issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this year. HHS/ONC-certified EMR software users are eligible for financial incentives and higher Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements.
The announcement means that EMR software vendors now can have their products certified as meeting the HHS' "meaningful use" criteria. HHS/ONC certified EMR software must pass 45 tests covering critical issues such as encryption, access management and reporting. For healthcare providers, using HHS/ONC certified EMR software not only helps ensure compliance, it may help boost your practice's revenues as well.
CCHIT Certification is good for two years, and several companies have had their solutions certified at one stage or another since 2006. However, in order to qualify for "meaningful use" reimbursement, those solutions must receive 2011 CCHIT Certification or a comparable certification from the Drummond Group. As of August 20, 2010, only 32 EMR products have achieved 2011 CCHIT Certification.
EMR software certification is part of a broad initiative undertaken by President Obama and Congress under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The HITECH Act provides for upwards of $27 billion in incentives to help health care providers recoup costs of transitioning from paper-based medical records to EMRs. Individual physicians and other eligible healthcare professionals can receive up to $44,000 through Medicare and almost $64,000 through Medicaid. Hospitals can receive millions of dollars.
To qualify, healthcare providers must implement and demonstrate meaningful use of HHS/ONC-certified EMR software systems as defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in July. Physicians must also accept Medicare and must have at least $24,000.00 in total Medicare allowable charges per year.
About the author: Mr. Quinn works with a variety of healthcare organizations throughout Florida and nationwide to assess their individual, financial, operational and strategic challenges and to develop tailored solutions designed to streamline administrative, billing and coding functions, free up resources to focus on core competencies and boost revenue.
Scott C. Quinn | Iatros Healthcare Solutions
(904) 296-1160, option 1 | www.iatroshealth.com