Common Questions From Our Medical Practices

What is ARRA?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, is an economic stimulus package enacted by Congress in February 2009. The stimulus was intended to create jobs and promote investment and consumer spending during the recession. The measures are nominally worth $787 billion. The Act includes federal tax cuts, expansion of unemployment benefits and other social welfare provisions, and domestic spending in education, health care, and infrastructure, including the energy sector. Specific to spending in healthcare is the HITEC Act designed to expedite the move to electronic health records (EHR).

What are the costs of implementing EMR?

You can expect your EHR implementation to require a significant investment, however ARRA stimulus money is available to help. Your costs will include software and software support, hardware and hardware support, training and project management, decreased productivity and revenue during initial training and go-live, and RHIO membership fees just to name a few. The benefits of EHR include more efficiencies in your office work flow, automatic and immediate claim submission and eligibility check, and improved coding support which will generate more revenue.

Electronic Health Record (EHR) or Electronic Medical Record (EMR)?

Sometimes people use the terms “Electronic Medical Record” or “EMR” when talking about Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology. Very often an Electronic Medical Record or EMR is just another way to describe an Electronic Health Record or EHR, and many people use the terms interchangeably. For the purposes of the Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs, eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) must use certified EHR technology. Certified EHR technology gives assurance to purchasers and other users that an EHR system or module offers the necessary technological capability, functionality, and security to help them meet the Meaningful Use criteria.

How much ARRA stimulus money is available?

There are two programs for receiving the ARRA stimulus money. The incentive is per provider, not practice. Each Provider may only receive money from one program or the other, but may switch between programs if they meet the qualifications. The Medicaid Provider incentive is considerably more, but you must have a minimum of 30% of your patient volume attributable to Medicaid. If you do not meet the 30% Medicaid level then you will choose the Medicare program. Both programs require you to use an ONC certified EHR and demonstrate 90 days of meaningful use of the EHR software. See our Meaningful Use page to determine how much of the stimulus you will qualify for.

What is the HITECH act?

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. It is designed to promote the widespread adoption and standardization of health information technology. The HITECH Act seeks to improve American health care delivery and patient care through an unprecedented investment in health information technology. The provisions of the HITECH Act are specifically designed to work together to provide the necessary assistance and technical support to providers, enable coordination and alignment within and among states, establish connectivity to the public health community in case of emergencies, and assure the workforce is properly trained and equipped to be meaningful users of EHRs. Combined, these programs build the foundation for every American to benefit from an electronic health record, as part of a modernized, interconnected, and vastly improved system of care delivery.

What is a RHIO?

A Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO), is a non-governmental organization that exists as a not-for-profit corporation to enable interoperable health information exchange.  A RHIO accesses patient data in EHRs from different sources across the region and makes the data accessible to physicians from their office computers.  RHIOs require commitment from multiple health care stakeholders in a geographic region, including physicians, hospitals, long term care and home care providers, patients, insurers, purchasers and government. RHIOs are responsible for enabling interoperability through which individual stakeholders are linked together – both organizationally and technically – in a coordinated manner for health information exchange (HIE) and quality and population health reporting.

There are many RHIOs in the New York metropolitan area, who oversee HIE.

What is a REC?

A Regional Extension Center (REC) is an organization that has received funding under the HITECH Act to assist health care providers with the selection and implementation of electronic health record (EHR) technology. RECs provide training and support services to assist in EHR adoption, and offer information and guidance with EHR implementation.  In New York there are two RECs.

What is HIE?

Health Information Exchange (HIE), is a system that enables the seamless, secure electronic transfer of health care information between individuals and organizations within a region, community, or health care system. The objective of an HIE is to enable safe, timely, cost-efficient, patient-centric health care. HIEs also assist public health authorities in the analyses of epidemiology and support the general public health.  HIE is facilitated by Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIO).

Where Can I Find More Healthcare IT Information?