Blog | Monday, October 20, 2008

EHRs at 8 a.m.

I'm at the Medical Group Management Association's annual meeting this week, in not-so-sunny San Diego.

This morning, I started off by going to a lecture about the operations of the Certification Commission for Health Care Information Technolgy, the recognized certification body for electronic health records, which was founded by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and HEY! DON'T FALL ASLEEP! I'M STILL TALKING HERE!

Anyway, I managed to stay awake for a few interesting facts. First, despite all the talk about how Stark exceptions will let hospitals give EHR systems to physicians, very few are actually doing that. Specifically, the MGMA rep said that he's never met anyone who got their EHR that way, and the CCHIT director suggested about 100 hospitals have actually done it. Biggest hurdle, according to the speakers: disputes over who controls the data in the records.

But, one entity that actually is encouraging EHR adoption: malpractice carriers. Both speakers said they've talked to liability insurers that are offering up to 5% off premiums if you have an EHR. (There's no proof yet that electronic records lower claims, but they do improve documentation.) Depending on the size of your premium, that discount might pay for a significant chunk of your EHR costs, the experts suggested.

And, a few of the mysteries of CCHIT certification were revealed. When you're looking at an EHR, the more recent the certification, the better, but don't rule out a system that's still 2008 certified in the spring of 2009, they said. The certification cycles run from August to August, so no one will have the current year's certification until the summer at the earliest. Also, certifications are good for two years, but vendors should state in their contracts that they will get renewal of their certifications when needed.