Chicago Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center




Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions - Providers

EHRs and health information exchange can help clinicians provide higher quality and safer care for their patients and create tangible enhancements for their practices. By adopting electronic health records in a meaningful way, clinicians can:

  • Know more about their patients. Information in EHRs can be used to coordinate and improve the quality of patient care across multiple provider settings.
  • Make better decisions. With more comprehensive information readily and securely available, clinicians will have the information they need about treatments and conditions – even best practices for patient populations – when making treatment decisions


 For Providers:

  • Quick access to patient records from inpatient and remote locations for more coordinated, efficient care
  • Enhanced decision support, clinical alerts, reminders, and medical information
  • Performance-improving tools, real-time quality reporting
  • Legible, complete documentation that facilitates accurate coding and billing
  • Interfaces with labs, registries, other EHRs and Health Information Exchanges (HIEs)
  • Safer, more reliable prescribing

For Patients:

  • Reduced need to fill out the same forms at each office visit
  • Reliable point-of-care information and reminders notifying providers of important health interventions
  • Convenience of e-prescriptions electronically sent to the pharmacy
  • Patient portals for online interaction with providers
  • Electronic referrals allow for easier access to follow-up care with specialists

Primary care providers may face daunting, yet not insurmountable, challenges when it comes to implementing EHRs in their practices, including:

  • Managing the expense of a system
  • Disruption of workflow and productivity
  • Concerns about technically supporting a system
  • Lack of necessary computer skills
  • Perceptions of negative influence on the physician-patient encounter, maintaining patient- centeredness
  • Having the right IT staffing to install & support a system
  • Managing patient privacy and security concerns
  • Uncertainty over return on investment (ROI)
  • Finding an EHR to meet their needs (usability of EHR)

At CHITREC, we understand the unique challenges of primary care providers, and we work with providers to overcome these challenges to fully realize the benefits of electronic health records in improving efficiencies and patient care.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), or "the stimulus bill," provides additional Medicaid and Medicare payments to physicians that demonstrate "Meaningful EHR Use" – the foundation of successful EHR implementation.

  • The meaningful use rule is part of a coordinated set of regulations to help create a private and secure 21st-century electronic health information system.
    • 15 core objectives of meaningful use comprise basic functions that enable EHRs to support improved health care. As a start, these tasks include the entry of basic data: patients’ vital signs and demographics, active medications and allergies, up-to-date problem lists of current and active diagnoses, and smoking status. Other core objectives will include using several software applications that begin to realize the true potential of EHRs to improve the safety, quality, and efficiency of care—and to begin extending the benefits of EHRs to patients themselves by providing patients with electronic versions of their health information.
    • In addition to the core elements, practitioners must select from a menu of 10 additional tasks, from which providers can choose any 5 to implement in 2011–2012. This gives providers latitude to pick their own path toward full EHR implementation and meaningful use.
  • Through HITECH, the federal government is committing unprecedented resources to supporting the adoption and use of EHRs. This funding will provide important support to achieve liftoff for the creation of a nationwide system of EHRs. It will make available incentive payments totaling up to $27 billion over 10 years, or as much as $44,000 (through Medicare) and $63,750 (through Medicaid) per clinician.
  • Initial Incentive payments, administered through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will be made available beginning in January 2011 to eligible providers with EHR systems that focus on: electronic capture of health information in a coded format, use of that information to track key clinical conditions, communicating that information across the care continuum, and reporting clinical quality measures and public health information.

At CHITREC, our number one priority is helping all providers understand and fully take advantage of the window of opportunity to fully realize the benefits of health IT adoption and achieving meaningful use.

  • With our scalable support, we will help you get there efficiently and effectively.
  • Your practice will be geared to achieving the objectives from the very beginning, maximizing payments and minimizing hassle.

There will be a rush for new providers to implement EHRs to take advantage of the incentives because they are time-limited. Vendors will have limited capacity and will start to be overbooked, making CHITREC services all the more valuable as it may ease practice burden while speeding up the implementation process.
Given the fact that most younger providers consider EHRs a necessity in a medical practice, the installment of an EHR system now is an investment in the future value of a medical practice.

  • EHRs require an initial investment of time and money, but providers can save money in the longer run through improved efficiencies, including reductions in the amount of time spent locating paper files, transcribing and spending time on the phone with labs or pharmacies; more accurate coding; and reductions in reporting burden.

Providers around the country are recognizing that, overall, the health care system is rapidly moving toward EHRs.

  • Many hospitals, health plans, and other entities are now supporting Meaningful Use and aligning programs around it.
  • EHRs are an essential component of health care reform related efforts such as Accountable Care Organizations.

Although CHITREC's mandate and grant authority is to support primary care providers, CHITREC can assist specialists. However, support for specialist will be determined on a case-by-case basis and may entail a CHITREC fee-for-service offering.

CHITREC is a resource for primary care providers (PCPs) in Chicago (606xx area code). Although we can help any Chicago provider, our focus is on practices of 10 providers or less, or those PCPs who provide care for the uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved. Those PCPs can be eligible for CHITREC direct assistance funding.