Printer Friendly

New rules could speed adoption of electronic health record keeping.

In a move that's encouraged the U.S. health insurance industry; the federal government recently proposed changes to its regulations that ultimately could make it less costly and easier for doctors to adopt electronic health records and electronic prescription technology.

Among the biggest hurdles facing most health insurers is getting physicians to invest in electronic health records, according to Dr. Andrew Wiesenthal, associate executive director of the Permanente Federation, part of Kaiser Permanente, a nonprofit, group practice health maintenance organization, based in Oakland, Calif.

"The investment to put in a system must be made on the physician side, but the savings are often realized elsewhere administratively, and the doctors don't see any of it," Wiesenthal said, questioning why a fee-for-service doctor would spend $15,000 to $20,000 so an HMO or pharmacy could save money.

A national health information network is expected to save about $140 billion a year through improved care and reduced duplication of medical tests.

But widespread adoption of electronic health records and the ability to share information among physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and health insurers won't occur for at least the next decade.

Doctors resist investing in electronic health records because of the up-front cost. On average, it costs about $35,000 per doctor to set up e-health records in a small medical practice.

In 2004, Kaiser Permanente began implementing its electronic health-record system, called "KP HealthConnect," which uses a common technology to help the organization provide real-time medical information to healthcare providers. The initiative also involves a nationwide information management and delivery system that covers every element of the health program and the clinical record, along with appointments, registration and billing.

Currently, health insurers can encourage physicians who see patients that are their subscribers to use tools such as electronic claims submissions, but the insurers can't buy and offer electronic health-record systems to the doctors in their networks because of the various legal and regulatory obstacles, Wiesenthal explained.

But those obstacles eventually may be removed, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Office of Inspector General on Oct. 5 proposed new rules that "represent a major step forward in meeting President Bush's goal of widespread adoption of electronic health records."

A CMS regulatory proposal would create exceptions to the physician self-referral law, or the Stark law. Currently, physicians in Medicare are prohibited from referring Medicare patients for some health services to health-care entities with which the physician has a financial relationship, unless an exception applies, according to HHS.

The new proposal would allow hospitals and certain health-care organizations to provide hardware, software and related training services to physicians for e-prescribing and electronic health records, particularly when the support involves systems that are "interoperable" and therefore can exchange information among health-care providers, HHS said.

The OIG, meanwhile, proposed "safe harbors" for arrangements involving the donation of technology for e-prescribing and electronic health records. Arrangements for providing items and services that meet the safe-harbor requirements would be exempt from enforcement under the federal anti-kickback statute, HHS said.
COPYRIGHT 2005 A.M. Best Company, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Technology
Publication:Best's Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:509
Previous Article:Humana Inc.
Next Article:Achieving high performance in claims: insurers need to embrace technology as a way to reinvent their claims operations to support growth in a number...
Topics:


Related Articles
Patient privacy: a policy shift. (Health Policy Update).
HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996: everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask!
Cutting to the chase: what physician executives need to know about HIPAA. (Implementing HIPAA and Other Compliance Programs).
Toeing the line: health data, rate and form filing are insurers' top electronic compliance issues.
Electronic records in long-term care.
Electronic evolution: electronic records are on the way, and payors need to watch the process closely.
The state of the electronic health record in 2005.
Medical breakthrough: Dr. David Brailer is moving the goal of electronic health records for most Americans, along with a national health information...
Get a handle on electronic hospital data: hospital patient data can reside in a simple database or in a fully integrated electronic system. Both may...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters