US gov't unveils e-health records incentive program

Offers increased Medicare payments to practices using EHR applications

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced a new five-year initiative that will provide higher Medicare reimbursement payments to U.S. physicians who use electronic health records (EHR).

The demonstration program is intended to offset the costs of putting EHR software into place and paying for training and support, which have been some of the primary hurdles to small and midsize practices adopting the technology.

As part of the initiative, the HHS's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) next northern spring will begin working with 1,200 practices that have between three to five physicians, said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. The practices, which treat 3.6 million patients, will use certified EHRs to meet clinical quality standards, he added.

During the first year, practices that use certified EHRs will be given higher Medicare reimbursements, he said.

In the second year of the program, incentives will be added for those practices that use the software to compare their performance against national standards for care. During the third year, further incentives will be available to those practices that improve quality of care, Leavitt said.

Practices can receive higher financial incentives as they deepen their investment in and use of the technology, he added.

The initiative is intended to reduce very low rates of EHR adoption by small physician practices, Leavitt said. The program is also part of an effort to move the health care industry from a economic sector to an economic system like that used in banking, where standardized systems such as automated teller machine networks are shared with competitors.

The agency noted that only 10% of small physician practices use EHRs today, and only 5% of solo practitioners use the software.

"We want to learn and indeed to get better at paying for value and not just volume," Leavitt said. "This is not just about getting computers in every doctor's office. This is about creating an interoperable systems to connect providers."

Peter Embi, a physician and director of the University of Cincinnati's Center for Health Informatics, spoke during the HHS announcement about a patient of his who has severe arthritis, gout and congestive heart failure. Without the benefit of EHR software, which Embi uses, "at best his care would be slow and delayed. At worst, he might actually be harmed by some conflicting medications."

The initiative requires that participating practices use a certified EHR system to perform specific functions, including clinical documentation and ordering prescriptions, that can affect the quality of care, the HHS said.

The system used by participating practices must be certified by the HHS. The incentive payments will be based on performance on the quality measure, with an added bonus on how well the EHR is helping to manage patient care, according to the agency.

Leavitt also announced that the HHS will provide local organizations who have linked employers, health plans and providers with access to Medicare physician quality performance measurement results, probably as soon as the next summer.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?