Benefits Financial incentives were offered to physicians and hospitals that met Meaningful Use requirements; those that did not meet requirements were subject to financial penalties
through progressively larger reductions in their reimbursements (Cohen, 2016). Prior to the HITECH Act, many physician-owned practices were reluctant to adopt EHRs into their practice; however, some believe the financial incentives offered made a significant impact on the rapid adoption of EHRs (Cohen, 2016). The threat of losing a percentage of reimbursement money is an impactful motivator for small clinics and physician practices to meet the new requirements. These incentives broke through barriers that organizations had identified as EHR adoption barriers. Adoption barriers included the cost of adoption and a weak return on investment (Cohen, 2016). Without these financial incentives, the rate of EHR adoption in private practices and small clinics would have been drastically slower. Increasing the use of EHRs is vital to HITECH’s goal of utilizing the gather to improve to outcomes. Ramifications The HITECH Act allocated billions of dollars to create financial incentives for providers to implement EHRs and demonstrate the care provided had a meaningful impact on patient care and cost (Mennemeyer, Menachemi, Rahurkar, & Ford, 2015). Recent studies indicate that the incentives only contributed to inevitable EHR adoptions (Mennemeyer et al., 2015). The majority of physicians and small organizations would have adopted EHRs eventually without the incentives. These incentives could be considered as poor allocation in funding, since the majority of these providers would have ultimately adopted EHR systems, on their own timeline. Lack of innovation and competition among EHR systems is another possible ramification of the incentives offered by HITECH Act (Hersh et al., 2011). The HITECH Act reimbursed for the implementation of a certified EHR system which can lead to EHR companies focusing on meeting compliance to be certified rather than focusing on further innovation of their systems (Cohen, 2016). This can also lead to an imbalance in the EHR marketplace as organizations consolidate to an established vendor, rather than an evolving modular system that would allow organizations to mix and match services to the needs of their organization (Hersh et al., 2011). By the time I had enrolled in nursing school and begun clinicals, all the clinical sites were utilizing an EHR, with EPIC being the most common. Based on my readings, I believe the HITECH Act had good intentions; however, I find it difficult to justify the funds that were allocated to provide monetary incentives to organizations that would have eventually implemented an EHR on their own. Many studies agree the incentives only worked on organizations that would have implemented a system due to market pressures, with some saying without the incentives, implementation rates were only two years behind what they ended up being with the incentives offered (Cohen, 2016; Mennemeyer et al., 2015).
- Summer '16