As physicians look ahead to the new year and anticipate their technology investments and training programs, they might also take the time to reflect on changes that took place during 2012.
1. The Affordable Care Act
It was declared that access to healthcare was constitutional during 2012, and regardless if this aligned with an individual doctor’s beliefs, it likely made them consider how the legislation could impact their practices. This move means millions of Americans will now have access to healthcare coverage for the first time, which means a surge in patients looking for providers. Doctors may need to take steps to be able to accommodate that jump in demand without accruing or absorbing extra expenses.
2. Electronic health records
Electronic health records are not necessarily new in and of themselves, but they did play a huge role for physicians in 2012, explains The Philadelphia Inquirer. This was the last chance doctors had to start participating in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Records (EHR) incentive program, which offers tiered payments for meaningful use attestation.
This was also the year when adoption did in fact surge, hitting two-thirds among eligible providers toward the year’s end.
3. Meaningful use, meaningful use again and again
While some practices were sent reeling as they actually buckled down in order to participate in the incentives program, federal regulators were already hard at work determining the next wave of meaningful use standards. Meaningful use 2 requirements were announced, and following a comment period, approved. Attestation begins in 2014.
Not long after, the Health IT Policy Committee also released the suggested standards for meaningful use 3. The comment period is still open, allowing physicians and hospitals to weigh in about the recommended measures.
4. Patient portals for empowered consumers
Because patient engagement is such an important aspect of meaningful use 2, Physician’s Practice writes that it should come as no surprise that patient portals were one of the biggest technology trends of the year.
“Portals starting to get traction and attention especially in light of Stage 2 MU requirements,” MGMA healthcare consultant Rosemarie Nelson told the source.
In fact, Physician’s Practice surveyed doctors and found that ownership rates jumped 10 percent in a single year, largely owed to the fact that doctors are now feeling pressure to provide their patients with access to digital health records.