Public And Private Financial Incentives

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Summary: Public and private financial incentives are aligned as never before to encourage physicians to adopt electronic health records. To aid in the transition, the government has also put billions into training health information technology workers and establishing regional extension centers to provide technical and other advice. Even so, progress is slow and obstacles remain. Chief among those obstacles may be the investment of time required to transition to an electronic system. By Brian Schilling In 2009 as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, the federal government set aside $27 billion for an incentive program that encourages hospitals and providers to adopt electronic health…show more content…
The Rewards of EHR Adoption For physicians willing to adopt EHRs, the financial incentives offered by the federal government are substantial. The average physician with at least 30 percent of his or her patients covered by Medicare is eligible for up to $44,000 in total incentives. A physician with at least 30 percent of his or her patients covered by Medicaid is eligible for even more, up to $63,750. To earn any of that money though, physicians must do more than simply purchase an EHR system; they are required to show that they have achieved "meaningful use" of that system in terms of improving quality. At a minimum, that will mean having systems capable of e-prescribing, reporting quality data, and exchanging data among providers. As of May 19th, 320 health care providers (including 283 physicians and 37 hospitals) have received a total of $75 million in Medicare incentive payments for demonstrating meaningful use of electronic health records. The relatively slow start was perhaps to be expected—to qualify for this first round of incentives, practices were required to not only meet certain EHR requirements, but also sign up for the payments within the first two weeks they were available. Many practices simply weren 't that far in the process. More telling for the future of HIT may be the number of physicians and hospitals that have registered
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