Registration for EHR Incentive Programs
Starts January 3, 2011: Are You Ready?
A Message from Dr. David Blumenthal, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
December 27, 2010
Published by ONC on 12/27/2010 and republished here.
The New Year is just around the corner, and so is another milestone in our nation’s work to improve health care through health information technology. Starting on January 3, 2011, eligible health care professionals, hospitals, and critical access hospitals may register to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
This is an auspicious time. Nearly two years ago, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was signed into law. Since then Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies like the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and others have implemented HITECH policies and programs to help providers adopt and achieve meaningful use of certified electronic health record technology and ensure that electronic health information remains private and secure.
Why Become a Meaningful User?
Qualify for financial incentives from the federal government
Eligible professionals who demonstrate meaningful use have the opportunity to receive incentive payments through the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs—up to $44,000 from Medicare, or $63,750 from Medicaid. Under both Medicare and Medicaid, eligible hospitals may receive millions of dollars for implementing and meaningfully using certified EHR technology. Providers can get started now with the help of financial incentives from the federal government. If they wait, those incentives may not be available. And financial penalties are scheduled to take effect in five years.
Build a sustainable medical practice
The next generation of health care professionals will expect and demand that their own medical facility home have a state-of-the-art information system. Becoming a meaningful user of electronic health records will allow providers who are building their practices to recruit and retain talented young clinicians.
Improve the safety and quality of health care
The meaningful use of electronic health records will help health care providers and hospitals offer higher quality and safer care. By adopting electronic health records in a meaningful way, providers and hospitals can:
- See the whole picture. All of a patient’s health information—medical history, diagnoses, medications, lab and test results—is in one place. Providers don’t have to settle for a snapshot when they can have the entire album.
- Coordinate care. Providers involved in a patient’s care can access, enter, and share information in an electronic health record.
- Make better decisions. With more comprehensive health information at their fingertips, providers can make better testing, diagnostic, and treatment decisions.
- Save time and money. Providers who have implemented electronic health records say they spend less time searching for paper charts, transcribing, calling labs or pharmacies, reporting, and fixing coding errors.
ONC and CMS: Here To Help
Registration for the incentive programs may be close at hand, but so is assistance. If you need help in registering for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs or selecting a certified EHR system, ONC and CMS have resources and services to help you.
- The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs website contains educational resources and fact sheets with information to help eligible professionals and hospitals adopt, implement, and upgrade certified EHR technology and demonstrate meaningful use to receive EHR incentive payments.
- Regional Extension Centers, which cover every region of the country, provide on-the-ground technical assistance to health care providers working to adopt and meaningfully use certified EHR technology.
- The Health IT Workforce Development Program prepares skilled workers for new jobs in health IT.
Connecting to Your Community
ONC also has other programs in place to help advance the meaningful use of certified EHR technology and health information exchange:
- The Beacon Community Program provides funding to selected communities that demonstrate exceptional health IT infrastructure and exchange capability—and that can model best practices in health IT for others.
- The State Health Information Exchange (HIE) Cooperative Agreement Program funds states’ efforts to rapidly increase connectivity and enable the flow of patient-centric information across the health care system—within and across states.
- The Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) Program supports innovative research to address problems that impede the adoption of health IT.
As 2010 comes to a close, we are well on our way as a nation to achieving the benefits of widespread adoption of EHRs. If you haven’t made any preparations to register to receive incentive payments, I encourage you to get started now. Resolve today to become a meaningful user in 2011.
David Blumenthal, MD, MPP
National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) encourages you to share this information as we work together to enhance the quality, safety and value of care and the health of all Americans through the use of electronic health records and health information technology.
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