August 18, 2011
Healthcare Information Exchange is the end goal of the recent health reforms in the United States and aims to provide better patient care on a continual basis by multiple organizations. The implementation of HIE not only helps in providing quality care to patients but also assists in reducing costs and errors that arise due to duplicate tests, cost of paperwork, and other manual efforts such as scanning of documents, printing, and traditional procedures that consume time and money. Since HIE is still in its implementation stage, many health care providers, hospitals and the government are facing numerous challenges in this area.
The biggest hurdle that the government and physicians are facing is the Meaningful Use of EMR. Physicians, clinics, and hospitals have to demonstrate that they have been using the IT reforms in a meaningful manner and this entails numerous requirements to be met. These can range from recording the smoking status of patients above the age of 13 years to providing e-prescriptions. Many physicians are finding it hard to implement the technology and successfully demonstrate meaningful use due to many reasons. Some of these include resistance to new technology by the staff or physicians, older physicians who are set to retire in a few years and are reluctant to adopt such technology, and the possible adverse legal implications of successfully implementing EMR and EHRs.
The utilization of HIE can have legal implications for small providers of EHR systems but larger government sponsored providers face lesser risks in the form of legal actions. Moreover, physicians and hospitals may face legal penalties if the system is not used in an appropriate manner which can lead to reduced quality of patient care. The legislation regarding HIE and EMRs or EHR is still being developed and this uncertainty and lack of proper regulations in the initial stages of the HIE implementation is creating anxiety among health care providers.
Health Information Exchange is a complicated and sensitive issue where there is very little scope for errors and so the costs for implementation and utilization over longer periods of time are another problem physicians and the government is facing. The major issue as far as costs are concerned is the downtime costs which would be borne by physicians. If the HIE or EMR systems are down even for a short period of time, it can cost the physicians a lot of money and result in a drop in their revenue. As many physicians and hospitals scramble to implement Electronic Health Records to assist in the HIE process, this aspect of system downtime is sometimes ignored by system providers and health care providers as well.
The biggest concern that physicians and patients have is the privacy of their records since there are many professionals who would have access to their health information. Since the information shared by them can be misused by many agencies such as competing insurance companies, training physicians, pharmaceutical companies and unauthorized research agencies, there certainly is a growing concern over the security of such sensitive data.
There are many opinions, debates and solutions which are being proposed to meet these Healthcare IT sector reform challenges. However, some of the most simple and cost effective measures are physician education about HIE, legal reforms related to HIE, ensuring technical efficiency, and better administrative processes including efficient medical billing and coding, medical transcription, lesser turnaround time and efficient interaction with payers. In fact, to focus on optimizing your processes in keeping with the HIE injunctions you could hire the support of excellent consultants. These HIE specialists have the capability of directing your precious time and effort towards implementation of technology and processes rather than creating trouble.
Although there are various challenges faced by HIE in the United States, it is possible to successfully implement it with the help of experienced HIE and revenue cycle consultants. For more information regarding healthcare IT reforms and end to end revenue cycle consultancy you can visit medicalbillersandcoders.com – the largest consortium of medical billing professionals across all states, handling all specialties.
EMR / EHR / Health IT