Healthcare Technology Featured Article

November 19, 2012

EHR Incentive Payments Reach $8 Billion

The federal EHR incentive program has succeeded in getting healthcare providers to switch to electronic records. There was a little political opposition added to the move recently.

The Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs provides incentive payments to eligible professionals and eligible hospitals as they demonstrate adoption, implementation, upgrading, or meaningful use of certified EHR technology.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about 58 percent of eligible healthcare providers have made the transition; successfully taking advantage of the cash the government is spending to help ease the move. The total amount handed out as incentives is about $8 billion. The complete transition to EHR is expected to cost in excess of $20 billion to the government.

According to the experts the time to get the share of cash being offered to healthcare providers is running out and in last two years many medical professionals and providers have made the switch to EHR. Expanded offerings of software products, especially cloud based EHR systems, has helped the smaller practitioners immensely in the adoption of new electronic format of keeping records.

Physicians who implement EHR systems and demonstrate that they are engaged in “meaningful use” of such systems are eligible to about $44,000 under Medicare and about $65,000 under Medicaid, according to ‘The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’. Funds from both Medicare and Medicaid programs are available to the hospitals.

To be eligible for incentives, healthcare providers must meet the Stage1 requirements of ‘Meaningful Use’. The rules and requirements for Stage 2 will go into effect in year 2014. The proposal for Stage 3 is being put together by the feds.

These incentive programs support providers in this period of health IT transition so that once the use of EHRs are in place in meaningful ways it will help the country improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of its patient healthcare.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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