Sound to good to be true? I’ve always said there is no such thing as a free lunch, but I think I’ve found an exception to that. With all the talk about EMR and the deadlines for switching, I finally took some time to do some research. We are strictly a billing office, so we aren’t directly affected by EMR, but our providers are! So it will affect us to, in the long run. Anyway, what I found out was quite interesting.
There are MANY EMR companies out there. The prices range from upwards of $20,000 down to – believe it or not – free. When I first heard of the free ones I was a little skeptical, but I’ve actually talked to some providers using the free ones. They are quite happy. Of course the first question is “how can they offer EMR for free?” “It must be a limited version!” Well actually, what they do is sell advertising on the EMR, so while you are using it, a one inch banner of ads will be also displayed on the screen. If you don’t want to see the one inch banner then you can pay a small monthly fee to not have the advertising on the screen. The providers I spoke with didn’t mind viewing the one inch banner. They said they don’t even notice
So ok, I can understand how the free works, so my next question was, “does it qualify for HITECH?” HITECH, Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, is part of the $789 billion economic stimulus package that President Obama signed into law on February 17, 2009. Under HITECH, physicians can qualify for up to $44,000 in Medicare EHR incentives if they demonstrate Meaningful Use of a certified Electronic Medical Record system. In a practice with three eligible providers, the incentive would total $132,000 across five years.
So do these ‘free emr’s’ qualify for Hitech? Well, the ones that I looked at did! Basically the government defines what “meaningful use” is and what you need to make sure is that the EMR you are using is ONC-ATCB 2011/2012 compliant and is certified as an EHR Module in accordance with the applicable certification criteria adopted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Now I don’t know what makes it ONC-ATCB 2011/2012 compliant, but it is important that if you are looking to qualify for HITECH that you make sure the EMR program you are choosing has been certified. It should be clearly
posted on their website, or in their information.
If a provider qualifies for HITECH, the incentive is paid out over a five year period, starting with $18000 being paid the year the EMR is adopted.
OK, so the last thing you may be wondering is “who are the free companies?” Well, I cannot personally vouch for these as I haven’t used them directly, but I have had a couple recommended by providers. I will give you the web addresses, but I strongly urge you to do your homework and check them out before jumping in. You can find others by googling “free EMR software”