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Lots of Confusion Initially
When the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was passed in February 2009, a lot of uncertainty
was associated with the Act's Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) provisions, including the EMR adoption incentives. It
was clear that lots of monetary incentives would be handed out, but strings would be attached to those dollars.
EMR system "certification" was at issue, as well as physicians' "meaninguful use" of EMR systems. After lots of debate and
several rounds of rulemaking, a measure of certainty has entered the picture.
Regulatory Dust Has Settled
We know now that CCHIT will no longer be the exclusive (and expensive) certifying body for EMR systems. Additional certifying
bodies have been authorized, and the certification process has been simplified. More EMR systems will get certified over time,
increasing competition within the EMR system market segment. EMR systems that were previously certified by CCHIT will be "grandfathered"
for two years, and new certifications and re-certifications are taking place presently. Further, we know now that "meaningful use"
criteria will be very easy to satisfy initially (during the first two ARRA annual incentive periods), with the requirements becoming
somewhat more stringent over time.
What This Means for You
Regulatory issues should no longer delay your implementation of an EMR system. In fact, with all of the planning, sourcing, selection
and other steps required, you should start your EMR system acquisition process now. If you want to take full advantange of the ARRA EMR
incentives, you'll need to start using your new EMR system in 2011 (or prior).