A new Augusta business is on a mission to bring the medical records for all local medical practices and hospitals into the electronic age.
HYBRiD Health IT Inc., a consulting firm for health information technology, has opened in Augusta Technical College's incubator at 3140 Augusta Tech Drive.
"Our mission is to follow the legislation behind health information technology. That policy is called HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health)," said CEO Gloria Dunbar.
By 2015, all medical facilities are required to convert to electronic health records. After that date, the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for these facilities will be penalized for noncompliance, Dunbar said.
"I thought Augusta was a great place to launch it because of the medical industry here. A group of us who had been consultants came up with the idea by reading the legislation and following the market," Dunbar said.
HYBRiD Health IT Inc. will service the Augusta area and 54 counties of east Georgia.
The consulting business partnered with Georgia Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center, which is located at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
GA-HITREC was awarded $19.5 million to help physicians adopt and implement electronic health records systems.
By converting to electronic health records, physicians nationwide will be able to share information with all of a patient's medical providers so everyone can make better decisions for the next step in treatment, diagnosis or medication, Dunbar said.
Dunbar has worked as an IT consultant for 15 years. She has implemented electronic health records for the Department of Defense, in addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Georgia's public health information networks.
There have been some roadblocks in converting facilities to electronic health records, such as cost and technology. It can cost $15,000 to $30,000 to convert a small medical practice. Many physicians haven't converted to electronic health records because they can't afford it, she said.
"The legislation actually carved out money to create regional extension centers throughout the country to help doctors with the implementation costs. You've got to do it, and if you do it now, you will be rewarded for doing it. That's where the incentive pay comes from," she said.
Dunbar has a staff of three, but HYBRiD could hire about 25 employees with clinical and IT experience.