I try to keep informed about Electronic Medical records (EMRs), certification of those products, and funding for them provided through the economic stimulus bill (ARRA). After all, as a developer and vendor of a behavioral health EMR, I really should know some of this stuff. This week, I was struck by the number of acronyms that have come into common parlance in the past six months. I find the amount of information being generated about healthcare information technology (HIT) overwhelming. I am sure it feels even worse to someone who has not been trying to keep up with this information. After all, who can possibly know what all of these shorthands stand for and mean?
So what would any good technology hound do? Well, of course, I googled ‘Health Information Technology acronyms‘ to see who out there has started to organize this information for the public. To my pleasant surprise, several documents attempt to do just that.
To start with, our federal department of Health and Human Services has a whole web site dedicated to HIT. On the left side of the page, there is a list of tabs. Under Resources there is a page called Acronyms. And that is just what it is. A list of the letters used as the shorthand referents for 112 terms ranging alphabetically from AHIC (American Health Information Community) to WW (Wounded Warrior). You can then cut and paste a name into the Search box on the top right of the page to find documents on the site that reference this “term”. When I do this for American Health Information Community, I get a list of 601 documents linked to this site that refer to AHIC in some fashion. If I do this same search on Google, I get about 129,000,000 hits. Be careful what you search for!
The Rural Health Resource Center, a not-for-profit located in Duluth, Minnesota has a document containing a list of 53 acronyms including brief definitions or descriptions of the terms or organizations listed as well as links to the sites of some of the organizations described.
Likewise, the Department of Health Services of the state of Wisconsin has published a list of acronyms and what they stand for. This list relates to eHealth rather than just health information technology, so it is bound to have some different entries.
A web site created by Pivotal Solution Group called HITECH Answers has their own list of acronyms and definitions. Pivotal Solution Group is a coaching and consultancy organization…a private group as opposed to the government sources listed above.
And finally, the Software and Technology Vendor Association (SATVA), a trade association of behavioral health software vendors to which we belong, has developed a section on their web site to monitor information regarding behavioral health EMR certification. Behavioral Health Certification Watch will be updated as new information is received.
While some of you have probably clicked on the links above, I think it highly unlikely that you will spend much time reviewing this information. After all, who has the time to go looking into the masses of information that are being created about HIT, certification of products and paying for those products. Most behavioral health organizations are likely to just continue doing what they do until someone finally tells them they must move to an electronic medical record (EMR) by a certain date or they will not get paid for the services they provide. Oh wait, that is what has happened…at least, for Medicare and Medicaid payments.
Is that enough to start movement toward an EMR in your organization? Is your practice beginning to consider the possibilities? What do you believe it will take to move mental health providers into EMRs?