Monday, February 16, 2009

Health Care IT: The Latest from the Obama Team

By now you've probably caught wind of Obama's advocacy of health care IT -- exciting news for doctors and EMR vendors alike. According to President Obama, our shared goal of improved efficiency, connectivity, and cost-effectiveness is achievable through widespread EMR adoption.

Most recently, Congress has approved of allocating $19 billion toward health care IT -- specifically, transforming paper charts into their electronic form -- as part of a greater $100 billion push for better, more widespread health care coverage. (Read more...)

Moreover, Congress has declared that physicians who use electronic medical records are eligible for up to $44,000 in incentive payments, which will be delivered over a four or five-year period as of 2011. Early birds who begin using EMR by December 31, 2010 or 2011 are eligible for an $18,000 first-year payment, followed by $12,000, $8,000, $4,000 and $2,000 in subsequent years. If practices begin use by December 31, 2012, payments in years 2-5 are the same, but their first-year payment is reduced to $15,000. The reception of this EMR incentive, however, will preclude physicians from collecting additional money for e-prescribing. As for penalties, those who do not adopt HIT incur a 1 percent penalty in their Medicare fee schedule payments in 2015, 2 percent in 2016, 3 percent in 2017, and 3 percent every year beyond that.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, we continue to speculate on how exactly, in practical terms, the Obama team will aid in the implementation of this plan for digitized health records. Indeed, IO Practiceware believes in the value of some form of standardization for EMRs -- to enable and promote practice interconnectivity -- but is wary of the roadblocks posed by CCHIT's limited definition of a "certified" EMR system.

In the meantime, we applaude the Obama administration for encouraging EMR adoption through monetary incentive, enabling the emergence and implementation of specialty-specific EMRs like IO Practiceware.

What do you think? Contact Obama's team or write to your state's senator.

In the meantime, you can check out some related articles: Obama's Big Idea: Digital Health Records, from or our previous Blog post on Obama.


  1. Do you think IO Practiceware is going to meet the certification criteria? Will CCHIT be the certification criteria?

    I'm not so certain that the small amount of "possible" medicare reimbursement will be enough for most doctors to implement an EHR.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with all the money. Let's hope Obama is as transparent as he is saying he'll be.

  2. HIMSS recently advocated using CCHIT as a criteria for government funding of HIT. This is a bad mistake, as outlined in the following position paper by the Open eHealth Collaborative:

  3. IO Practiceware is committed to meeting whatever criteria is necessary for its customers to receive the government's incentives. But because we are ophthalmology-specific, we categorically do not incorporate many of the features CCHIT requires.

    We are making our voices heard to prevent the conflation of CCHIT criteria with government-approved EMR, as it would be a great disservice to specialty-specific EMRs.