Health Financing/Insurance

Electronic medical records encouraged by Health Insurers

Three health insurers from western New York have asked the region’s electronic clinical information exchange to lead an effort at driving more adoption of electronic medical records by area physicians. HEALTHeLINK was hired to implement a program seeking to get 500 more doctors to start using electronic medical records over the next three years, by Western New York Health Plan, comprising of HealthNow New York, Independent Health Association and Univera Healthcare. It is a government nationwide effort, whereby insurance industry and providers are to increase the use of electronic records to lower costs, streamline operations and reduce medical errors. While use of the electronic records is spreading locally, so far it’s been limited to a few major practices, such as Buffalo Medical Group.

The vendor software packages that physicians can choose from, including determining the requirements used to evaluate them, are to be selected by the health plans with support of HEALTHeLINK under the given agreement. For instance, better medical outcomes, electronic prescriptions and maintenance of health records are to be functions of the software. HEALTHeLINK will also guide physicians in choosing which software to use, and then implement so they can qualify for federal dollars. US$19 billion in the US$787 billion stimulus package is kept aside by Congress, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to support doctors and hospitals in adopting electronic records. The new initiative will focus on primary care physicians, Medicaid providers and eventually specialists, including both physicians and mid-level clinicians.

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