The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) contains provisions for spending approximately $19 billion in health IT infrastructure and Medicare and Medicaid incentives to press providers to use health IT, according the NJAMHA Newswire , a publication of the NJ Association of Mental Health Associations. The National eHealth Collaborative, the replacement for AHIC (the American Health Information Community), is clearly relieved that this funding has been approved, assuring their continued existence. They tout the law’s determination to solicit “broad stakeholder input” and “full participation of stakeholders” in the process of recommending how to accelerate adoption of use of health IT. The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare cheers their successful work to include community mental health centers as eligible entities for the available funding.
As a small company that provides mental health EHR software, mental health billing software and medical office billing software to small provider organizations, we are very concerned that the voices of those small providers will get lost in the shuffle. There is no question that hospital systems and the physicians who are part of those systems will adopt medical EMR software as well as other IT tools that will facilitate the deployment of health IT in the general medical arena. The size of those organizations will also make it easier for them to apply for some of the funding that will be available. But what about the solo mental health practitioner or the small group practice or even the large group practice?
While SOS Software has been involved to some extent in the development of a standard for a behavioral health EHR, we have been concerned from the start that the standard will make software too costly for the small provider to acquire. While our current product is very affordable, we do not yet know what the effect of requiring certification for EHRs will be on the cost of our products. We expect to raise this issue repeatedly in this space and other forums in which we participate over the next couple of years in hopes that some of you will be stimulated to get involved and to express your opinions about how far-reaching the requirements should be and what assistance you will need to adopt a mental health EHR in your practice.
Please let us know what you think and how you would like to be involved.
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