Dr. Blumenthal Discusses Registration for EHR Incentive Programs

Dr. Blumenthal Discusses Registration for EHR Incentive Programs

January 18, 2020 5 By Kailee Schamberger


Hello, I’m David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for
Health Information Technology. I’m pleased and excited to say that the registration process
is now open for health care providers
to obtain significant incentive payments for adoption and meaningful use
of electronic health records. The incentive payment program is
aimed at accelerating the nation’s adoption of
health information technology. Health care providers throughout
the nation can qualify for this funding. Under the HITECH Act of 2009, Congress set aside up to
$27 billion over 10 years to help support providers’
adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records. Doctors and other eligible
professionals can qualify
for incentive payments totaling as much as $44,000
through Medicare, or $64,000 through Medicaid. Hospitals can qualify
for incentive payments totaling some $2 million
or more. National adoption of health
information technology will constitute an historic
turning point for health care in America. Starting with adoption
and meaningful use of electronic health records, health information technology
will provide better care for patients,
easier care for providers, and long-term health care
cost and quality improvement for the nation as a whole. HITECH programs, combined with
professional leadership, are turning the tide
toward a future of HIT-assisted and -supported
health care. After years
of sluggish adoption, health care providers are
planning to take the plunge. 81% of hospitals plan
to take advantage of the incentive payment
program, and 80% of those plan to act
during Stage 1 — that’s in 2011 and 2012. That means that 2/3
of the nation’s hospitals are already planning to act
in the next two years. For their part, 41% of the
nation’s office-based physicians are also planning
to take advantage of the incentive payment
program, and 80% of those are planning
to act during Stage 1. Only 14% of physicians
say they will not act to become meaningful users
of electronic health records. That means that a third of the
nation’s office-based physicians are already planning to act
in the next two years. Why are providers choosing
to go now? Availability of incentive
payments is one reason. Availability
of federally supported technical assistance
is another. The guidance provided through
the meaningful use process, which provides clarity regarding how to use
electronic health records and assurance that certified
electronic health records will support those uses. And leadership by the nation’s clinical and hospital
professional organizations are a very important element. Cooperative leadership
and unprecedented new resources are making the difference. We recognize that electronic
health record adoption and meaningful use are hard work
and big investments, especially for smaller practices
of primary care providers. That’s why incentive payments
and technical assistance have been made available
under HITECH. Incentive payments can offset a significant amount
of the investment. 62 Regional Extension Centers
across the nation are prepared to offer
customized, on-the-ground assistance,
especially to providers without significant HIT
resources or expertise, such as small-practice
primary care physicians and small hospitals. All providers owe it to
themselves and to their patients to learn about this incentive
program and the other supports. The number of providers already
planning to act is gratifying, but we believe that many more
still need to learn about the opportunities
they have. Acting during Stage 1 means
maximum funding through the incentive payment
program. Beginning in 2015,
providers will see reductions in their Medicare
reimbursements for not meeting requirements
of meaningful use. We believe it is in providers’
interests, patients’ interests, and the nation’s interest
to move during Stage 1 to the adoption
and meaningful use of electronic health records. We are committed
throughout this process to protecting
the privacy and security of personal health information. All the information
that providers need is at the CMS Web site at
CMS.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms. To contact the Regional
Extension Center that serves their area,
providers can also find Regional Extension Center
contact information at HealthIT.HHS.gov/REC. Thank you so much for your time
and attention, and good luck with becoming a meaningful user of electronic
health records.