CHICAGO, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In letters sent today to President Obama and members of the United States Congress, Allscripts congratulated the President and the leadership of Congress on the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which for the first time provides financial incentives to physicians who adopt and use Electronic Health Record technology (EHR) to improve both the quality and cost- effectiveness of patient care. Studies demonstrate that effective use of Electronic Health Records reduces medical errors, improves clinical quality and leads to better patient outcomes by enabling real-time access to patient records, medical information and best practices, and electronic connectivity to all healthcare stakeholders, including patients.
In addition to its other components focused on economic stimulus, the law provides $20 billion in health information technology funding. The total includes $2 billion in discretionary funds and $18 billion for investments and incentives through Medicare and Medicaid to ensure widespread adoption and use of interoperable healthcare IT systems such as the Electronic Health Record. Physicians who have not adopted certified Electronic Health Record systems by 2014 will have their Medicare reimbursements reduced by up to 3 percent beginning in 2015.
With the stimulus, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will pay physicians between $44,000 and $64,000 over five years, beginning in 2011, for deploying and using a certified Electronic Health Record to care for patients. The stimulus package is expected to ignite significant job growth in the information technology sector and, according to a Congressional Budget Office review of the legislation's impact, drive up to 90 percent of US physicians to adopt Electronic Health Records in the next decade.
A recent Allscripts survey of 1,888 healthcare professionals revealed that 98 percent of physician practices would take advantage of the incentives or would be closely evaluating the opportunity.
"Enabling a majority of physicians to use electronic health records is the single most important thing we can do to improve the quality and lower the cost of healthcare in America," said Glen Tullman, Chief Executive Officer of Allscripts. "We applaud President Obama and our Congressional leaders for recognizing the importance of this life-saving technology to our nation's future."
James R. Morrow, MD, a physician at North Fulton Family Medicine in Alpharetta, GA who was named Physician IT Leader of the Year by the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), welcomed news of the new law's passage. "In one stroke, Congress has all but removed the biggest stumbling block to EHR adoption -- cost," Dr. Morrow said. "It's time for doctors to stop complaining about the cost of an EHR and take the ball and run with it toward the goal of better medicine with better records and information sharing across the healthcare team."
Dr. Morrow's 11-physician practice received the coveted Nicholas E. Davies Award for Excellence from HIMSS in 2004 for demonstrating that their Allscripts Electronic Health Record saved $1.25 million a year by eliminating transcription and other costs associated with paper medical records. But Dr. Morrow insists the "most important reason to adopt the technology is the quality of care you can deliver for your patients".
Don Caruso, M.D., Associate Medical Director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic in New Bedford, NH also applauded the passage of the stimulus legislation for its potential to encourage wider physician adoption of Electronic Health Records.
"For our healthcare system to be all it can be, physicians need to be able to provide quality care at a consistently high level, and that cannot occur without an electronic health record," said Dr. Caruso, who also uses an Allscripts Electronic Health Record. "The same is true of providing more cost-effective care -- you can't get there without technology."
Dartmouth-Hitchcock was one of 10 physician groups nationally to serve as pilot sites for CMS's first Pay-For-Quality program, which tested whether paying physicians to follow best practices using an Electronic Health Record in the treatment of chronic disease would result in better health outcomes (and lower costs for Medicare). Dartmouth-Hitchcock received nearly $6 million in performance payments from CMS, the largest performance payment of all of the pilot groups, for improving the quality and cost efficiency of care in treating patients with chronic disease between April 2006 and March 2007. The Clinic was among four pilot groups who together earned $13.8 million in performance payments in return for saving Medicare $17.4 million, according to CMS.
Dr. Caruso continued, "Our expectation is that CMS would like to do more of these programs and with almost $2 billion dollars to distribute, we believe, hope and expect the incoming Secretary will do just that."
David Merritt, Project Director of the Center for Health Transformation, founded by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, commented: "This is a significant and important down-payment on modernizing our health system through information technology. Many more physicians and health systems will soon have the most modern tools in their hands -- and patients will receive better, safer, and more efficient care."
The Allscripts Electronic Health Record enables physicians to automate common clinical tasks such as documenting patient care, writing prescriptions, ordering lab tests and viewing test results with an objective of improving care. The solution also connects physicians to the latest clinical information, to other key healthcare stakeholders like pharmacies, labs, and patients, and to each other, while providing seamless support for Pay-For- Quality initiatives, and one of the most advanced clinical research support systems in the industry.
Allscripts (Nasdaq: MDRX) uses innovation technology to bring health to healthcare. More than 150,000 physicians, 700 hospitals and nearly 7,000 post- acute and homecare organizations utilize Allscripts to improve the health of their patients and their bottom line. The company's award-winning solutions include electronic health records, electronic prescribing, revenue cycle management, practice management, document management, medication services, hospital care management, emergency department information systems and homecare automation. Allscripts is the brand name of Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions, Inc. To learn more, visit http://www.allscripts.com.
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