For $1,000 per physician you can get expert consultation to help select and implement an electronic health record (EHR) system for your practice – and qualify for federal incentive dollars under Medicare or Medicaid (see the CMS website).
Already, 63 physicians and nonphysician prescribers have signed up with the Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center (I-HITEC) at Purdue University. An additional 200 are in the contracting process.
“Our real interest is in moving physicians from paper to electronic health records,” said Monica Arrowsmith, I-HITEC director. The center at Purdue has a statewide reach, with the exception of 19 southeastern Indiana counties that are within the HealthBridge Tri-State Regional Extension Center service area (counties listed at www.ismanet.org/linkto/HB-REC). ISMA Reports will highlight this center in an upcoming issue.
Arrowsmith described the ideal candidate for I-HITEC’s services: A primary care practice with fewer than 10 physicians and/or nonphysician prescribers who are really interested and excited about improving efficiency with an EHR. The center also is targeting community health centers and practices affiliated with critical access hospitals.
However, if you already have an EHR, I-HITEC can still assist you. The center will split its service lines for:
Practices with paper records, no EHR
Practices with an EHR that need help to qualify for federal incentives
Most practices using EHRs will need an upgrade to meet meaningful use guidelines. “Getting all physicians to the correct version to meet meaningful use will be a huge job,” said Arrowsmith. “Those with no EHR may, in fact, have an easier time reaching meaningful use.”
About the vendors
I-HITEC went through a strict vetting process, using a physician advisory committee, to select its preferred vendors. The finalists had to be capable of helping practices select, implement and “go live” with an EHR in six weeks, or at least by the second quarter of 2011.
In addition, the selected vendors agreed to offer preferred pricing and terms. And finalists will provide I-HITEC staff the same training on their products their own company employees receive.
The three vendors I-HITEC chose are:
If you already have an EHR but it is not one of the three I-HITEC preferred vendors, the center will help you upgrade to achieve meaningful use by conducting a “gap analysis” and making recommendations. They’ll also teach you how to use and transmit data. Those services come at the same $1,000 per physician rate.
Arrowsmith explained that the center receives federal support funding only when its clients qualify for the federal meaningful use incentive. “There is a lot of risk involved for us. If we do all our work and the physicians are unable to achieve meaningful use — we don’t get paid.”
About the overall cost
The selected vendors are Internet-based, so there is no initial large cost to the practice for servers or systems. There’s also no worry about updating to different versions; it’s done regularly by the vendors who charge a monthly fee for their services.
Implementation and training your staff on an EHR is estimated to cost $2,500 to $3,500.
I-HITEC will assess a practice’s hardware and possibly recommend new computer purchases. “Remember that depending on the system you select, your clearinghouse, fax and lost records costs will be reduced or eliminated,” said Arrowsmith. EHRs streamline a medical practice and make it more efficient.
If you meet I-HITEC’s criteria, if you’re “interested and excited” about achieving meaningful use, don’t delay. Arrowsmith cautioned, “There are not enough resources to help all hospitals and physicians and get them to the maximum incentive.”
Start by completing an Interest Form at:
Watch ISMA Reports for details on the HealthBridge Tri-State Regional Extension Center.
For more resources about EHR incentives, visit the CMS website.
For a list of EHR systems tested and certified to meet meaningful use requirements, see this website.