Feds set e-records rules

    The federal government is dangling bonus checks to entice doctors to make the switch to electronic health records. This month, providers learned exactly what they’ll have to do to earn that money.

    The federal government is dangling bonus checks to entice doctors to make the switch to electronic health records. This month, providers learned exactly what they’ll have to do to earn that money.

    The new “meaningful use” rules push doctors to practice in ways that reduce medical errors.

    One requirement is electronic prescribing. Instead of a prescription scrawled on a piece of paper, your medication order will go directly from the doctor’s computer to the pharmacy. Quality Insights of Pennsylvania won a federal grant to help 8,700 health providers make the switch.

    Spokeswoman Krista Davis says her group has established the Pennsylvania Regional Extension and Assistance Center for HIT — to help doctors meet the new requirements. About 2,300 doctors have already signed up.

    Davis: The next step in the process is to go live, actually putting their system into place and seeing it work. The final step is reaching meaningful use. It basically just means that a practice is using its system to its fullest potential to help improve the quality of care that it’s delivering to its patients.

    Quality Insights is hosting information sessions across the state in coming weeks, including a stop at Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

    Providers who care for Medicaid or Medicare patients could get up to $63,000 extra if they use their e-records systems wisely.

    Dr. Richard Baron leads Greenhouse Internists in Philadelphia. He says e-records systems should do more than make billing easier, they should support patient health.

    Baron: If you wanted to be able to look at all your patients over 65 who should get pneumococcal vaccination, the computer would need to know the age of all your patients. Another required element is you would have to have medication lists on all your patients.

    If a drug were recalled, for example, it wouldn’t take long for a doctor to run a report and alert all patients about the hazard.

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