Costs and lengthy installation times continue to keep most small-practice and solo providers from participating in the federal electronic health-record incentive program, according to testimony at a congressional hearing.
House hears about docs' EHR barriers
Both Republican and Democratic members of the House Small Business Healthcare and Technology Subcommittee said their constituent physicians have shied away from the program because of the costs involved. That aversion remains despite federal payments of up to $63,750 over six years for implementing and meaningfully using EHR systems.
"Many small healthcare providers simply can't afford it," Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said.
Olympia, Wash., dermatologist Dr. Sasha Kramer testified that installation of two EHR systems—the first of which was replaced after the seller was bought out—has cost her $73,000 over the past three years. Additional costs arise from operating the systems, she said.
The Obama administration does not know the average cost or installation times of EHR systems among the nearly 43,000 providers who have signed up to participate in the program, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Farzad Mostashari told Modern Healthcare after the hearing. However, installations generally take "months," he said.
Both installation times and cost, which vary depending on the size of the practice, should be significantly less than reports suggest, said Andy Slavitt, CEO of OptumInsight and a hearing witness, afterward. Installation for small practices should take only "weeks" and such offices require only small, offsite-managed EHR systems whose costs don't exceed the value of federal incentive payments, he said.
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