Dr. Scott Ketover: Gastroenterologists, ASCs & the EHR Fairness Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Electronic Health Fairness Act. Scott Ketover, MD, president of the Digestive Health Physicians Association and president and CEO of Minnesota Gastroenterology in St. Paul, weighs in on the importance of this legislation.

Question: How does the passage of the EHR Fairness Act affect gastroenterologists?

Dr. Scott Ketover: The passage in the House is a good thing; the Senate is working on legislation, as well. There is no direct cost to this bill. It is a cost saving measure for everyone. This will remove the administrative burden for those physicians that see Medicare beneficiaries in surgery centers. These patients are currently counted in the total pool for meaningful use, however ASCs don't have any certified EHRs.

This legislation will help us to see patients in a setting that provides high-quality care at a lower cost. We won't be channeling Medicare patients to a higher-cost hospital outpatient department (HOPD). If those patients are preferentially scheduled at HOPDs, it raises the total cost of care. This is a problem that can be solved. The legislation working its way through Congress gives us an opportunity to figure out a long term solution.

Q: Do you expect there eventually will be a way for ASCs to have certified EHRs?

SK: This legislation is promising a three-year window. Centers relying on paper records realize those days are numbered. At some point, they will have to switch, if not for the sole reason that it will become required, then because it is just more efficient and offers better access to outcomes data.

Q: How would an EHR requirement affect ASCs?

SK: If CMS puts out a requirement and allows a sufficient transition period for certified EHRs, I think  products will be become available, and in the long term it will save money.

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