Registration opens for EHR incentive programs
Federal incentive payments through Medicare and Medicaid are available to eligible health care professionals and hospitals when they adopt certified electronic health record (EHR) technology and successfully demonstrate “meaningful use” of the technology in ways that improve quality, safety, and effectiveness of patient-centered care.
As of January 3, eligible professionals and hospitals in Oregon and other states may register for the Medicare EHR incentive program through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website. Incentive payments are expected to begin in May 2011.
Registration in the Medicaid EHR incentive program is available in 11 states, though not yet in Oregon or Washington. Incentive payments have already begun in Oklahoma and Kentucky. The Oregon Health Authority expects to launch the Oregon program in summer of 2011. The state is moving forward with its strategic plan to build a statewide EHR infrastructure, including a system for secure health information exchange.
The CMS website offers information on payment, eligibility, meaningful use, certified EHR technology, and frequently asked questions. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) Certified HIT Product List includes more than 130 certified EHR systems or modules. Across the country, 62 Regional Extension Centers overseen by the ONC are providing hands-on assistance; Oregon’s extension program is operated by O-HITEC, a unit of OCHIN.
Eligible professionals may take part in the Medicare or Medicaid EHR incentive program, but not both. Hospitals that are eligible for both programs may receive payments from both Medicare and Medicaid. Eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 over a five-year period through Medicare, and up to $63,750 over six years through Medicaid. Under both programs, eligible hospitals may receive millions of dollars for implementing and meaningfully using certified EHR technology.
Surveys commissioned by ONC revealed that 81% of hospitals and 41% of office-based physicians currently plan to take advantage of the EHR incentive payments.