24 May 2011


The Detroit Medical Center was among one of the first hospitals nationally to apply for federal incentive dollars. The money, if received will go towards paying for an expensive Michigan emr system, also known as electronic medical records.
The Detroit Medical Center said they have sent proof to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that they have achieved "meaningful use" of several electronic health record objectives that qualifies them for the aid.
The DMC will get an estimated $16 million to $17 million this year, helping to cover some of the $35 million it spent in 2006 and 2007 to upgrade its computerized physician order entry and nursing documentation systems. The DMC expects to receive a total of $40 million in incentives.
The federal funding is aimed at expediting the conversion of paper medical records to electronic systems that can move with patients, which experts say could drive down health care costs.
Many hospitals nationwide haven't installed much electronic record technology and are looking for meaningful use consultation. About 1.6 percent of hospitals surveyed in January by the American Hospital Association said they meet "meaningful use" requirements and have certified electronic health record technology.
The DMC is ahead of some competitors in using electronic record systems. The DMC hospitals are rated six out of seven for using the technology by the Healthcare Information Management Systems (a seven is paperless).
Hospitals will use the federal money, made available through 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to help pay for the transition from paper records to electronic systems that cost some health systems upwards of $100 million to deploy. Physicians also can apply for funding through CMS, which began taking applications in the middle of April.
Electronic medical records help reduce medical errors and lower health care costs by reducing duplication of tests and unnecessary procedures, eliminate transcription costs and can reduce a patient's stay. Electronic records also help assure patients that there won't be problems misreading handwriting or paperwork being lost or unseen.
CMS hasn't made any incentive payments yet to hospitals nationwide, but expects before the end of May to release information on incentive payments.
The state of Michigan has yet to issue any Medicaid incentive payments to the 13 hospitals that have applied because it is reviewing paperwork.
Medicare's first phase required compliance with 15 core measures and five of 10 other objectives. Goals included having at least 30 percent of patients get a computerized order entry for medications. Hospitals that don't achieve CMS goals by 2015 will be subject to significant financial penalties by Medicare.
Some Detroit hospital systems such as the University of Michigan Health System are working to upgrade electronic medical record systems before they apply. U-M has a more than $100 million upgrade under way, while Dearborn-based Oakwood Healthcare Inc. also is spending $60 million on a new system and plans to apply for its first incentive in 2013.
Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills will apply for the Medicare incentive early next year after it deploys an $8 million electronic medical record system hospital wide this fall.
Other area hospital systems say they plan to apply for incentives later, including the Henry Ford Health System and St. John Providence Health System. Novi-based Trinity Health, which owns the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in southeast Michigan, plans in July to apply for incentives at 20 sites, including hospitals in the Saint Joseph system.
The federal aid would definitely keep the DMC and other Michigan hospitals moving forward to inprove customer service, satisfaction, and care all while streamlining internal systems and saving a considerable amount of time and money.

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