The Truven Health Blog

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Digital Health Records: Lower costs, better quality – eventually

By Truven Staff
Bill Bithoney imageBetween 2011 and 2012 the federal government spent over $9.2 billion for Meaningful Use (MU) incentives, which are part of a comprehensive plan to decrease the cost of healthcare as well is improve its effectiveness and quality. As of December 2012 just over half of US hospitals have attested to MU Stage I, and an additional $9 billion in incentive payments will go out as the remaining half reach this milestone.
Meaningful Use I, and later MU II, should be viewed as laying the groundwork for electronic health record interventions which may ultimately result in improved health care. For now, though, growing adoption of digital health records seems to be accompanied by higher provider charges: CMS has documented increases approaching 4%.  This may be due in large part to electronic health records’ ability to quickly document more precisely and completely all types of care provided, and to generate bills at the highest possible level of reimbursement.  CMS and other health insurers are actively investigating this issue.