Over $30 billion has been set aside by the government to use for incentive payments in an effort to get health care professionals to switch to electronic records. One reason for the push towards electronic records is the ability exchange patient information between systems. As a way to efficiently capture this benefit, government-funded regional health information organizations (RHIOs) were established. These organizations sign up doctors and hospitals in a specific area and coordinate the transfer of electronic patient records between health care providers. However, a recent survey published in Annals of Internal Medicine shows that RHIOs’ future looks to be uncertain as their financial viability appears to be a cause for concern.
The study surveyed 197 RHIOs, of which 165 returned the surveys. It was shown that only 75 of the RHIOs were currently operational, covering a mere 14% of hospitals and 3% of ambulatory practices in the United States. Moreover, only 13 of those RHIOs are able to conduct the necessary exchange of information that enable doctors to partake in receiving payments of the $30 billion that the government set aside in an effort to promote the electronic switch. Finally, only 67% of the currently operational RHIOs were found to be financially viable. The results of this study creates a concern of whether RHIOs can indeed be effective in assisting hospitals and physicians with the type of electronic information sharing that was intended to advance the quality of care for patients.
If you need help understanding the meaningful use requirements or assistance with negotiating EHR contracts, please contact a Wachler and Associates attorney at 248-544-0888.