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Increasing Number of Physicians Sign on for Electronic Health Records Technology

Increasing Number of Physicians Sign on for Electronic Health Records Technology


Now that the federal government has laid down some clear ruels it appears that more doctors are willing to sign on to implement new Electronic Health Record (HER) technology in order to meet federal guidelines and take advantage of incentives offered for doing so.

An increasing number of office-based physician practices and other health care professionals report having installsed an electronic health record in their medical offices or other locations where they manage their records, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), an agency of the HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Increasingly more physicians, private practice and facility-based, as well as other medical care providers, according to the survey, are putting a private and secure electronic framework in place in an effort to realize long-term improvements in quality of care, efficiency, and overall health care costs. In addition, the survey also indicates that increasing numbers of physicians in private practice and with offices at hospitals and medical facilities also reported high levels of interest in adopting electronic health records and health information technology.

An electronic health record, as defined in the survey, could have been interpreted as just a "basic" EHR, which is simply one that stores very basic details, such as patient demographic information, patient problem lists, clinical notes, laboratory and imaging test results, and orders for prescriptions. Basic EHRs, however, do not meet the requirements for what has been outlined as meaningful use by the federal government, which is required under the new guidelines for incentives, so there is some question as to whether those guidelines will be loosened going forward and exactly how many actualized implementations are being planned or completed.

The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs as they adopt, implement, upgrade, or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology in their first year of participation and demonstrate meaningful use for up to five remaining participation years.

The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program is voluntarily offered by individual states and territories and may begin as early as 2011, depending on the state.

All eligible health care professionals may be eligible to receive up to $63,750 over the six years that they choose to participate in the program, provided they continually meet all of the requirements and maintain their EHRs without interruptions of service.

Those medical professionals who are preparing to receive hospital incentive payments, but those payments will vary from state to state depending on when their state begins its EHR program. The last year a Medicaid eligible hospital may begin the program is 2016. Hospital payments are based on a number of factors, beginning with a $2 million base payment.

There are no payment adjustments under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

The Medicare EHR Incentive Programincentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs that demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology are now being processed for those who began participation earlier this year. Eligible medical care professionals may be eligible to receive up to $44,000 over five years under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. There is also an additional incentive being offered for eligible professionals who provide services in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HSPA).

In order to become eligible to receive the maximum incentive payment, Medicare eligible professionals must begin participation by 2012. Incentive payments for eligible hospitals and CAHs may begin as early as 2011 and are based on a number of factors, beginning with a $2 million base payment. Those who do not comply by 2015, Medicare eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs that do not successfully demonstrate meaningful use, will have a payment adjustment in their Medicare reimbursement.

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Increasing Number of Physicians Sign on for Electronic Health Records Technology