Like all physicians, you must keep yourself up-to-date on the requirements governing selection, funding and implementation of electronic health records (EHR) for your practice.
EHR selection is driven by Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) certification requirements established under the HITECH Act. EHR funding, on the other hand, is driven by the “meaningful use” incentive payments the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin distributing to physicians during 2011.
The HITECH Act permits physicians to reassign their incentive payments to hospitals and other health care entities that provide EHR capabilities for physicians’ meaningful use, as part of an employment or independent contractor relationship. But this can only be done if all requirements are satisfied.
Another important EHR funding option involves subsidies that hospitals and other designated health service entities can extend to physicians under the Stark EHR exception and the Anti-Kickback Statute safe harbor, both of which will “sunset” in 2013. Lastly, in the case of 501(c)(3) entities, private inurement and private benefit requirements are also a consideration.
In terms of EHR implementation, a myriad of action items essential to implementation are involved, including but not limited to the negotiation of EHR software and related agreements, and getting the practice infrastructure in place to comply with HIPAA and other federal and state laws concerned with the privacy and security of protected health and other personal information.
In summary, there are several different levels of hospital-physician integration – employment, independent contractor arrangements, EHR sublicensing agreements and even the looming accountable care organization arrangements – each of which involve different issues related to EHR selection, funding and implementation.
For additional information or to discuss these options further, please contact Susan E. Ziel at (317) 238-6244.