|Adoption of Electronic Medical Report Systems: The Role of Speech Recognition|
|Wednesday, 21 April 2010 00:00|
With the introduction of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17, 2009, the push to digitize patient medical records has been at the forefront of Health Information Management. The act calls for the digitization of all medical records by the end of 2014, which means that all medical practices in the United States will be required to transition to Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Still, in today’s world, the most common types of health information exchanges are typically paper copies of paper medical records. To date, there has been very little automated data exchange between hospitals and physicians.
So, you might ask, how will the government effect the digitization of American health records, and influence the way physicians and hospitals store and transmit health information? To answer this question, we must look to the stipulations of the HITECH Act.
The health component of the ARRA bill is the HITECH Act, which appropriates $19.5 billion dollars to encourage the adoption and effective utilization of Electronic Medical Records (alternately referred to as Electronic Health Records, or EHR). The two primary goals of the HITECH Act are to mobilize physicians who have been slow to adopt Electronic Medical Records to a computerized system, and to ensure that patient data is actively and securely exchanged between healthcare professionals. To do so, the government has allocated funds to catalyze the desired changes.
The HITECH Act stipulates $2 billion will be immediately provided to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and its sub-agency, the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT. $320 million of this $2 billion will be used to establish more Health Information Exchange (HIE) initiatives, help existing HIEs to progress in connecting providers, and to ensure standards are consistent across products and care settings.
The biggest winners under the HITECH Act are the clinicians. $36 billion will be paid over a five-year period to healthcare providers that demonstrate meaningful use of Electronic Medical Records. These payments are designed to reward hospitals and physicians for effectively using robust, connected EMR systems. Conversely, practices that do not implement effective EMR systems by 2015 will be penalized, and will be required to forfeit Medicare fees. The net cost to the Federal government is anticipated to be $19.5 billion after savings are achieved through efficiencies, tax revenue and Medicare fee reductions for non-adopters.
All said, there is quite a bit of government money to be distributed to qualifying physicians and hospitals. Physicians who adopt effective EMR systems will eligible to receive as much as $64,000 over five years according to the HITECH Act. In order to qualify for incentive payments, both physicians and hospitals have to demonstrate three things:
Use of a certified EMR with ePrescribing capability that meets current HHS standards. Connectivity to other providers to improve speed and quality of access to patient medical information. Ability to report on their use of the technology to the HHS.
Physicians may qualify for one of two incentive programs (not both). There is a Medicaid program and a Medicare program.
Under the Medicaid program, physicians who see more than 30% of patients paying with Medicaid (20% for pediatricians) are eligible for payments of up to $64,000 over five years. Under the Medicare program, physicians who accept Medicare payments (but do not have a large volume of Medicaid patients) are eligible to receive $44,000 over five years. The Medicare plan also stipulates physicians operating in a “health provider shortage area” will be eligible for an incremental increase of 10%, and those who deliver care entirely in a hospital environment (e.g. anesthesiologists) are ineligible.
Physicians who do not demonstrate meaningful use of an EMR by the end of 2014 will see their 2015 fee schedules decrease by 1%. Additional decreases will be implemented in 2016 and 2017 down to a total of 97% of the regular fee schedule for non-participating physicians. This can be reduced even further (down to 95%) if the total adoption is below 75% in 2018.
What exactly constitutes the definition of “meaningful use” of an Electronic Medical Record is still under debate. We do know that most physicians agree that “meaningful use” of an EMR should mean highly accessible and detailed health records. According to a study by Nuance Communications, Inc. – a leading supplier of speech solutions aimed at making the transition to EMRs easier for clinicians – physicians cited faster access, more complete patient reports, and better caregiver-to-caregiver communication as important to defining meaningful use of an EMR.
In addition to gaining insight that physicians value readily available, highly detailed Electronic Medical Records, the Nuance study also shed light on physicians’ concerns about existing obstacles that impede EMR adoption. Ninety percent of physicians said that they were concerned about usability as the leading obstacle impeding EMR adoption. Armed with this knowledge, Nuance has developed a speech recognition software solution that greatly increases usability and function within an EMR system.
Nuance Communications’ voice recognition software – Dragon Medical 10 – is the industry-leading speech recognition software. The software eliminates physicians’ need to rely on typing, clicking and scrolling, something that 67 percent of doctors surveyed cited as a usability concern. This gives physicians more time to allocate toward patient care instead of reporting. And, because most doctors speak three times faster than they type, Dragon Medical speech recognition software can improve productivity by up to 25%.
Dragon Medical software empowers physicians with the technology they need to digitize their practice. Dragon allows physicians to dictate records into Microsoft Word and other common desktop applications, effectively increasing usability. Physicians can develop templates for repeat use, helping them easily dictate patient notes by voice. Dragon Medical makes it easy for physicians to take that first step toward adopting EMR systems.
Dragon Medical was developed by Nuance to accelerate physician adoption of EMR software by allowing clinicians to navigate an EMR system by voice. Dragon allows doctors to dictate medical decision-making – history of present illness, review of systems, assessment, and plan – directly into EMR systems – eliminating transcription and ensuring more complete clinical documentation. Dragon Medical fully supports HIPAA patient information confidentiality requirements.
Dragon Medical 10 speech recognition software is a must for every physician, as it greatly increases productivity by making EMR systems easier to adopt and use. Dragon is the first step for physicians looking to digitize their practice and save money on transcription costs, and is a valuable solution for physicians who want to take advantage of available government incentives for EMR adoption.
Get rid of the paper files, and do away with the keyboard and mouse! Dragon Medical speech recognition technology is the future of Electronic Medical Record technology.