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Insurers Stepping in to Provide Technology to Doctors

As the Wall Street Journal reported on August 9th, health-insurance companies progressively are initiating programs to equip doctors with high-tech patient records. Even with all of the focus on electronic health records (“EHR”), an estimated 80% of U.S. physicians and 90%of hospitals continue to use paper records. As HLP has discussed in a number of blogs, during this past year, the Obama administration included $27 billion in federal stimulus money to provide incentives for physicians and hospitals to convert to EHR. EHR, which represent a digital platform for storing patients’ medical data, differ greatly from the billing, claim-management and patient-scheduling systems that upon which substantial number of providers continue to rely.

From insurers’ perspective, the deployment of EHR creates the opportunity to diversify their operations as the federal health overhaul presents new challenges to their business of collecting premiums and paying claims. The insurance companies’ involvement has raised a number of questions among consumer advocates who question how patient information will be used. As one advocate observed, insurers “have a conflict of interest, since they want to know about you so they can better price products to you or deny you.”

For providers, migrating to an EHR platform affords opportunities in the form of practice efficiency, as well as access to federal tax incentives. Nonetheless, it is not anomalous for physicians to experience challenges with the process of converting to EHR; in addition, it is imperative to be cognizant of the legal issues implicated by the use of EHR.

For questions or concerns regarding government investigations, please contact Adrienne Dresevic, Esq. or Carey Kalmowitz, Esq. at (212) 734-0128 or (248) 996-8510 or visit the HLP website.

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