Obama’s Stimulus Package May Lead to a Medical Records Bonanza

A two-year window spurred by the new Administration’s providing economic stimulus funding for purchasing EMR software could lead to a veritable “bonanza” as clinicians rush to take advantage prior to January 1, 2011, when the money kicks in.

Physicians must begin using EMR systems to process their patient data by 2014. In fact, the time for physicians and hospitals to begin their switchovers is NOW. Stringent conditions exist in order for physicians and hospitals to take advantage of the new economic stimulus package pertaining to EMR software packages. Among those conditions is 80% usage while purchasing a federally certified package. January 1, 2011 is the day it all begins. It’s worth noting that a preparatory “learning curve” window (3-6 months lead time) is essential for the required 80% usage rate is to be achieved by the Obama-mandated deadline.

Even prior to the introduction of President Obama’s stimulus, the U.S. healthcare information technology industry spent $28 billion annually. This figure could triple by 2019. Some of these increased expenditures are expected to be recouped in the digitizing of Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The stimulus bill, already renamed as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is expected to make the use of electronic medical records nearly universal by 2015, when up to 90% of U.S. physicians will be fully invested in EMR. Physicians will be paid less by that year if they aren’t using EMR. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, is also expected to engender multistate computer networks so that physicians and hospitals will be able to exchange medical records over the Internet instead of via fax lines. But the getting there won’t be easy. The figure for physicians currently using EMR systems is estimated at 38%, according to a February 2009 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

The period between autumn 2010 and January 1, 2011 is expected to resemble a “gold rush” as physicians and hospitals rush to take advantage. So the timing is urgent, during 2009, not late in 2010, for physicians to potentially exploit what looks to be an electronic medical records bonanza.

David York is with Fox Meadows, a provider of electronic medical records software, EMR Software, and medical billing software. To learn more about electronic medical records, emr software, medical billing software visit Foxmeadows.com.

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