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Thursday, May 2, 2013

REC progress data release update from ONC

Props to
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is announcing the availability of more than 100,000 additional data points through its Health IT Dashboard. The resource is part of the ONC’s mission to ensure transparency and enable access to data relative to the adoption of health IT systems, such as through the EHR Incentive Programs (i.e., meaningful use)...
From the Dashboard:

Some selected states of interest to me: the west coast (including Hawai'i). First, I note that Nevada and Utah comprise one REC contract. But, our in-house competition has been rather animated (and has some old vestigially chafing shotgun marriage roots going back to the days a generation ago when the Utah QIO -- then known as "UPRO") bought the Nevada QIO contract ("NPRO," which had lost its Medicare SoW contract).

Hawai'i (above) is pretty interesting. Long relative (albeit accelerating) time to appreciable milestones, then a sharp plateau. Seems, from what I can glean -- given that they won't talk with me --, that they have put the bulk of their eggs in the (federally funded through 02/2014) HIE operation going forward. And, according to recent news reports, it looks like 2014 post-federal "sustainability" for HHIE will hinge on a million dollar funding allocation from the Hawai'i legislature (bill now in reconciliation at last report).
  • An allocation of $1 million to sustain the Hawaii Health Information Exchange (HHIE) contract for FY14. The HHIE is a local non-profit organization designated by the State of Hawaii to build the statewide health information exchange, a secure electronic network that allows health care providers to transmit patient medical information more efficiently.
Probably doesn't hurt that HHIE Executive Director Sakuda is a Hawai'i Registered Lobbyist (pdf).

Lobbying for continuation of your own executive position and salary? Or, did you recuse?


Contrast Hawai'i with everybodys' darling, Massachussetts; they grabbed all the low hanging fruit early on (leveraging their DOQ-IT chops, I guess), then plateau'd as well.



Meaningful Use incentives are one reason to implement electronic medical record software, but there are other financial benefits to using an EMR, as well...

1. Reduce office supply expenses.
One of the things that EMR companies tend to advertise most is that implementing their software will allow practices to go paperless. Doctors relish the thought of all the money they can save by eliminating paper ’ and they’re sold.

The truth is EMRs don’t eliminate paper use altogether, and truly paperless practices don’t exist. But an EMR can significantly reduce the need for paper, driving monthly hard costs down and leaving money in the budget for other expenses...

2. Increase productivity.
Learning to use an EMR -- not to mention redesigning workflow to adapt to electronic charting  -- can be overwhelming and will almost certainly slow physicians down at first. As learning takes place, however, particularly for practices that focus on the training aspect of implementation, productivity will slowly increase, translating into big savings over time...

3. Gain office space.
A benefit that practices often fail to consider is the storage space that is inevitably freed up by going digital. After all, once paper files have been scanned and are safely stored within the EMR, it becomes unnecessary to continue storing them on-site. But what to do with an empty chart room?

The obvious answer is to turn the space into an exam room so that it becomes an extra source of revenue...

4. Allocate staff resources more efficiently.
The most obvious example of how an EMR system allows practices to save money when it comes to staff is that it eliminates the need for a full-time medical records clerk. That’s savings of more than $2,000 a month, which for many practices is even greater.

Another alternative to cutting overhead without letting a staff member go is to use them in a more efficient way...
Yeah. Health IT ROI tools are fairly mature by now. Docs need to use them effectively to get past the nominal price "sticker shock" thing.

More to come...

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