Rural Hospital Data Loss is Only One Challenge: NRHA Asks For Extension
Members of Congress sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in September asking for a one-year extension for healthcare providers to meet provisions set forth in Stage 2 of the Electronic Health Records Meaningful Use Incentive Program (EHR).
A group of 17 Senators signed the letter, which pointed out that the EHR has played a significant role in improving technology related to storing and sharing health information. The problem is that many rural hospitals don’t have the resources to keep up with the requirements of EHR, which is why the Senators and the National Rural Health Association are pushing for an extension to allow these small healthcare centers a chance to catch up.
As it stands now, providers who do not meet the standards in Stage 2 will not be able to collect incentive Medicare reimbursement payments. These healthcare organizations could also see cuts in reimbursement payments in 2015 when the penalty phase begins.
Many of these rural healthcare providers are in the process of updating their technology, but it’s not happening fast enough to meet the deadlines set in the EHR. These providers need a buffer because of existing vendor delays in implementing EHR technology. They could also use the extra year to find financing and technical support.
Nobody is arguing that better technology and practices aren’t needed. In January of 2013, the Ponemon Institute surveyed 80 healthcare organizations in the U.S. and learned that 94 percent of them had experienced security breaches within the last 24 months.
Experts in the healthcare industry say that almost every healthcare organization has struggled to some degree in meeting the complexities of Stage 2. Part of the struggle is related to the number of software developers that have certified electronic health record systems that will meet the Stage 2 meaningful use requirements.
EHR developers are experiencing very slow progress in upgrading, testing and certifying that their product meets the more stringent criteria set forth in Stage 2. Because of these issues, a large number of healthcare groups have joined Congress and the National Rural Health Association, including the American Medical Association, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the Medical Group Management Association and the American Hospital Association.
The Senators said in their letter that they’ve taken a wide range of feedback from vendors, providers and stakeholders who have identified three key problems with the current deadline for Stage 2. One is in regards to the regulatory structure of the program. Having all 500,000 hospitals and physicians upgrading their existing technology in one year is not feasible, they said. Also, Stage 2 is likely going to “widen the digital divide for small and rural providers who lack the resources of large practices.” They also fear that Stage 2 could stifle innovation in health information technology.
OffSite Image Management, Inc., knows that disaster recovery and hospital data loss are high priorities for radiology centers and doctors offices in rural areas, which is why the company caters to rural healthcare providers with excellent services that keep data safe. OffSite has disaster recovery services that focus on IT and technology systems that support business functions.
Originally posted 2013-12-20 06:00:21.