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HHS, Sebelius Touts HIT Progress

February 17, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a recent announcement said number of hospitals using health information technology (IT) has more than doubled in the last two years.  She also announced new data showing nearly 2,000 hospitals and more than 41,000 doctors have received $3.1 billion in incentive payments for ensuring meaningful use of health IT, particularly certified Electronic Health Records (EHR). 

 “Health IT is the foundation for a truly 21st century health system where we pay for the right care, not just more care,” Sebelius said at the Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley Health Science Institute in Kansas City. “Health care professionals and hospitals are taking advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to begin using smarter, new technology that improves care and creates the jobs we need for an economy built to last.”

HHS also detailed information on a new survey conducted by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and reported by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT which found that the percentage of U.S. hospitals that had adopted EHRs has more than doubled from 16 to 35 percent between 2009 and 2011.  And, 85 percent of hospitals now report that by 2015 they intend to take advantage of the incentive payments made available through the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

The announcement also highlights new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) detailing $3.12 billion in incentive payments the agency has made to physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers who have started to meaningfully use EHRs to improve the quality of patient care.  In January alone, CMS provided $519 million to eligible providers.  EHR incentive payments can total as much as $44,000 under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and $63,750 under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of health IT jobs across the country is expected to increase by 20 percent from 2008 to 2018.   

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