2011 was a challenging year for healthcare IT professionals. Providers rolled out electronic health record systems to qualify for the government's Meaningful Use financial incentives. Meanwhile, mobile health apps took off, e-prescribing increased, health info exchanges got a start, and some organizations suffered data breaches. On the plus side, more health IT jobs became available.
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Besides racing to comply with the HITECH Act's Meaningful Use Stage 1 rules to maximize financial incentive payments, healthcare providers and payers in 2011 were faced with other upcoming regulatory deadlines, including HIPAA 5010 and ICD 10. With so many mandates on their plates, some healthcare organizations pushed the feds to delay the deadlines.
In late November, HHS announced it was delaying the deadline for Meaningful Use stage 2 compliance so that it would be easier for healthcare providers to adopt health IT and qualify for maximum incentive money.
Previously, eligible doctors and hospitals that had begun participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Programs in 2011 had to meet new Stage 2 standards for the program in 2013.
EHR incentive payments for eligible health care professionals can total as much as $44,000 under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and $63,750 under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.
To encourage faster adoption, HHS said it would allow doctors and hospitals to adopt health IT in 2011, without meeting the new standards until 2014.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services caved in on another deadline: CMS in November announced that it would delay enforcement of the ANSI 5010 standard electronic transaction set by 90 days, from January 1, 2012 to the end of March 2012.