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CMS, ONC Tout Milestone EHR Adoption Rates, Incentive Payouts

June 19, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) have announced that more than 100,000 healthcare providers are using electronic health records that meet federal standards and have benefitted from the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs.

The goal of 100,000 healthcare providers to adopt or meaningfully use EHRs by the end of 2012 was given by CMS’ acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Sc.M., three months ago. Tavenner proposed the 100,000 provider goal in a blog in March with Dr. Mostashari that declared 2012 the “Year of Meaningful Use.”

“Meeting this goal so early in the year is a testament to the commitment of everyone who has worked hard to meet the challenges of integrating EHRs and health information technology into clinical practice,” Tavenner said in a statement. “Not only have state Medicaid programs, public health departments, and many other stakeholders given their support to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, but numerous health professionals and hospitals have recognized the potential of EHRs to provide better patient care, cut down on paperwork, and eliminate duplicate screenings and tests.”

The EHR Incentive Programs, which was established by the Health Information for Clinical and Economic Health Act of 2009 (HITECH), has seen more than 110,000 eligible professionals and over 2,400 eligible hospitals have been paid by the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Additionally, approximately 48 percent of all eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals in the U.S. have received an incentive payment for adopting, implementing, upgrading, or meaningfully using an EHR.

According to the CMS, one out of every five Medicare and Medicaid eligible professionals in the U.S. has received an incentive payment for adopting, implementing, upgrading, or meaningfully using an EHR. Over $5.7 billion in EHR Incentive Program payments were made. More than $3 billion in Medicare EHR Incentive Program payments were made between May 2011 (when the first payments were released) and the end of May 2012.  More than $2.6 billion in Medicaid EHR Incentive Program payments were made between January 2011 (when the first states launched their programs) and the end of May 2012.

“The EHR Incentive Programs have really helped jump-start the use of electronic health records by health care providers all across the country,” Dr. Mostashari said in a statement. “Thanks in great part to the work conducted by the ONC-sponsored Regional Extension Centers (RECs) and Beacon Communities Programs, more and more providers across the country – especially those in rural communities – are now ready to use EHRs.”

Through the end of May 2012, over 133,000 primary care providers and 10,000 specialists were partnering with RECs to overcome common EHR adoption barriers. Of these providers, 70 percent of small practice providers in rural areas as well as 74 percent of critical access hospitals are working with RECs.



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