Officials urging electronic health records upgrades
State officials are urging medical professionals, hospitals and others in the health care industry who have not yet adopted electronic health records systems to join in the federally sponsored effort aimed at avoiding costly duplication of diagnostic tests and X-rays and ensuring that doctors have quick computer access to the medical history of their patients. The program is funded through the federal stimulus program. Eligible providers can get American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars as they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate the use of the electronic health records technology.The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services says that up to $13.57 million for Nevada physicians and up to $38.2 million for Nevada hospitals might be distributed over the next two years to get them up to speed with the program, the main element of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health, or HITECH, law enacted by Congress in 2009.Under the law, billions of federal dollars were made available nationally to medical-care providers for the adoption of electronic health records and other information technology, such as computerized prescribing systems. But before providers could get the money, they first had to adopt “meaningful use” criteria or show they were using electronic health records in a meaningful way.While the health-care industry is working on creation of electronic health records, some critics have warned that some of the new systems may never be able to properly communicate with one another, causing the federal initiative to bog down.The law’s stated purpose is to advance the use of health information technology and improve quality of care through the use and exchange of electronic health records and patient information. Nevada providers are being encouraged to begin registering with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. For more information, go to https://dhcfp.nv.gov/EHRIncentives.htm.