The US government mandated Healthcare providers to migrate your data to Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or Electronic Health Records (EHR) system by February 2014. What does this mean for you? How does this affect your care?
The US government mandated the use of EMR's to simplify billing and coding, with the hopes of bringing down the costs of healthcare and improving care. Instead of using paper-filing system for your information at the doctor's office, your physician has until 2014 to convert all that material over to an electronic database.
That database is meant to be more easily accessible by emergency provider's ifs something should happen. The information should be more easily shared between your specialists to better coordinate your care, in the hopes that proper coordination can reduce the number of redundant tests as well as help reduce the number of more invasive and expensive tests.
The mandate was given a few years back and phase one was to be accomplished by Feb 2012 (extended to Feb 2013). You may have noticed every time you go to your doctor's office you seem to be filling out the same paper repeatedly. Well, you are. The database requires the same questions be answered every time you are seen to document and map out any progression of disease and to help identity any emerging patterns.
The overall effect should bring down the costs of healthcare. That cost reduction should be reflected in health insurance premiums. However, many physicians have been slow to comply. There is no one standard system approved. Many hospitals are becoming the regional de facto system. Moreover, hospital base systems do not necessarily coordinate with private practice physicians who do not have hospital privilege. The EMR system comes at an added cost for private practices and that cost will be passed along to you the consumer. Many physicians have to pay the hospital or the hospital sponsored EMR contractor, this can have implications for the back end of the doctor's office with whom they are able to contract for billing services.
Adding to the complexity of the system and the expense is compliance with the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). To ensure privacy for patients the databases require encryption. In addition, some systems employ an audit trail; this gives detailed information about everyone who has accessed a file. When checking for cheap health insurance, ask if their healthcare providers are EMR compliant.