Recently, four members of Congress sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius asking her to suspend payments for the EHR Incentive Payments authorized in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Members make reference to “recent reports reveal[ing] that the EHR program may be leading to higher Medicare spending and greater inefficiencies while doing little, if anything, to improve health outcomes.”
HIMSS opposes halting the Meaningful Use EHR Incentive Program. Health IT is an essential, foundational element of any meaningful transformation of the Nation’s healthcare delivery system. HIMSS Analytics data provides clear indication that government incentives are working; take a look at the chart below.
This graphic shows how US civilian hospitals have, since the first incentive payments were made in second quarter, 2011, matured in their use of health IT. There are fewer hospitals in the early stages (0-3) and more hospitals in Stages 4-7. Healthcare providers are adopting certified EHRs and using them for meaningful purposes; thus, achieving Congressional intent to improve the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of care in U.S. Even more significantly, the HIMSS Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) Stage 6 and Stage 7 hospitals reflects a highly-robust representation of the move of U.S. hospitals toward interoperability leading to information exchange.
The letter written by the four Members of Congress perpetuates a link that does not exist – there is no link between the OIG’s report on Medicare billing rates, and the EHR Incentive Program. As I wrote in my September 22 blog, the NY Times made a mistake. On September 21, to shed an informed light on conclusions posited by op-ed authors of a Wall Street Journal piece, I posted a blog entry explaining what research shows us about how to measure return on IT investment in healthcare. And, on September 15, John Casillas of the HIMSS team posted a blog discussing what he considers to be deeply-flawed journalistic reasoning regarding billing and the use of EHRs.
I would also like to call readers’ attention to an outstanding series of six blog postings by Peter Basch, MD, FACP and Michael Zarourkian, MD, PhD, FACP, FHIMSS. This series of postings is truly excellent; using reasoned experiential knowledge to question and correct inaccurate assertions in recent journalistic publications.
Please read and consider all these pieces; tell us what you’re thinking. We want to hear your stories about how health IT – properly implemented, and with the appropriate security and evolved workflow processes – has made a difference for your patients.