As an incentive to expedite the process, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has offered monetary rewards for those facilities and physicians who are taking steps to implement an EHR system by 2015. Beginning in 2015, CMS will penalize facilities and physicians who have not implemented an EHR system. One of the stipulations of receiving the incentive money is demonstrating “meaningful use”, or utilizing EHR technology in a meaningful way that improves patient care.
Meaningful use has three stages, each focusing on different areas of patient care. There are several advantages and disadvantages of implementing an EHR system, but the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. The HITECH Act is one of the most important pieces of health care legislation to date and has been called the “foundation for health care reform” (Blavin & Ormond, 2011). In 2004, the Bush administration introduced a plan to ensure that the medical profession completely converts to electronic health records
Locally, interoperability is important because it helps physicians communicate with other facilities such as a referral. A patient’s family physician may refer them to a specialty doctor and with an EHR, both doctors can view and document findings in one record rather than having separate papers that need to be brought in by the patient and filed in their paper record. EHRs are also an asset within the same facility. When a patient gets a lab or x-rays done, the physician can immediately bring up the results rather than having to wait for the lab/x-ray technician to physically bring the results to them.
Interoperability makes coordination of care easier and more efficient. Advantages of Implementing an EHR In addition to the benefits of interoperability, there are several other advantages of implementing an EHR. The main goal of an EHR is to improve the quality and safety of patient care. EHRs can help provide better health care by improving all aspects of patient care like safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, communication, education, timeliness, and efficiency (“What Are the Advantages,” n. . ). Having a single record that includes all of a patient’s health information and is up to date, complete, and accurate allow for better coordination of care, accessibility of information, convenience, simpler disease management, enhanced collaboration between providers by improved information sharing, a significant reduction in medical errors, up-to-date medication and allergy lists, and cost savings in the long run (“Benefits of EHRs,” n. d. ). EHRs also reduce waste and liminate duplicate screenings and tests, as well as help physicians make better, more comprehensive clinical decisions by integrating patient information from multiple sources into one EHR (“What Are the Advantages,” n. d. ). Another advantage of having your health record in electronic format is increased security and privacy. With a paper record, anyone can pull it off the shelf and browse through it, but with an electronic record there are differing levels of authorization allowing only certain people access to your chart. Also, your chart cannot get “lost”.