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Payers Pave Way to Provider EHRs

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media, August 11, 2010

UnitedHealthcare, too, has unveiled a program that will provide outcomes-based financial incentives to physicians who have successfully adopted EHR systems that meet meaningful use criteria.

That's great news for hospitals and physicians struggling to make ends meet. But what are the downsides?

One school of though posits that taking money from payers for EHRs is a conflict of interest, since payers themselves have a keen interest in digging into patient data for the purpose of risk adjustment. i.e., analyzing it in order to forecast future wellness and calculate appropriate pricing.

Data is more likely to be analyzed in the aggregate, and in fact, HIPAA may protect individual patient records. What about questions of medical liability? Will insurer-subsidized EHRs make payers accountable for patient care or outcomes? Could payers be liable for medical decisions based on faulty software? It's doubtful.

The takeaway is that payers and providers both stand to gain from these EHR financing deals. The law has passed, and there's no escaping EHRs. Providers should direct their attention toward the many financing options emerging and start forming strategies now to put themselves into compliance by the deadline.


Cora Nucci is the Digital Associate Editorial Director for HealthLeaders Media.
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