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Wired for Better Patient Care

7/1/2010

Four years ago, HealthNet was among a handful of Community Health Centers across the country focused on becoming wired for better patient care.

That dream became a reality in 2009, thanks to a $2.5 million grant from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation that enabled HealthNet to implement a new, secure, electronic Practice Management/Billing/Patient Scheduling (PM) system as well as begin phasing in a state-of-the-art integrated Electronic Health Record system (EHR) at its eight community health centers.  HealthNet partnered with eClinicalWorks on the implementation which benefits the care for more than 50,000 patients in and around Marion County.

Besides improving efficiency, reducing paperwork and preventing medical errors, the PM/EHR system continues to help health care providers to better monitor and manage patients’ health risks.

In May, HealthNet’s early adoption of EHR also enabled the organization to be among the first health care providers in the state of Indiana to take advantage of new federal incentives to support health information technology.

The “Meaningful Use” Maze… What’s It All About?

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included the HITECH Act, which creates financial incentives, in the form of additional reimbursement, for health care providers who demonstrate “meaningful use” of health information technology. These Medicaid EHR incentives offer tremendous resources to providers serving predominantly low-income populations, and help ensure that they are able to adopt and use the new health information technology effectively.

In May, Indiana was one of the first 15 states to open their Medicaid EHR incentive programs for registration to Medicaid-eligible medical professionals and hospitals.  Eligible professionals and hospitals will be able to receive Medicaid EHR incentive payments after successfully registering and having adopted, implemented, or upgraded certified EHR technology.  Eligible professionals can receive up to $63,750 over six years.

With the help of the Indiana Healthcare Information Technology Extension Center (I-HITEC, the regional center established to help Indiana medical providers with EHR implementation), HealthNet immediately began the tedious process of enrolling more than 150 providers - one by one. HealthNet looks forward to the impact this additional funding will have on expanding care for the uninsured and underinsured in Indianapolis. It also will enable more health care providers to share important patient data securely, across a citywide network in real-time, which will improve care for the patients.

In June, HealthNet was among 41 health care providers in the state recognized by I-HITEC for the early adoption of EHR and meaningful use standards. HealthNet Associate Medical Director Richard Reifenberg, MD, was invited to speak at the conference, held on the IUPUI campus.