By Linda Beattie

As promised, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began issuing the first incentive payments under the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program in May 2011. The incentive program provides payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) that demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology.

While these are the first incentives to be paid under the Medicare program for EHRs—also known as electronic medical records (EMRs)—several states have already made payments to physicians and hospitals who have met the requirements for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. More than $83 million in Medicaid incentives have been paid since January 2011, according to the CMS.

Many health care experts agree that the Medicare and Medicaid incentive plans are helping to drive up the number of EHR adoptions. But hospitals and health care providers need to be ready to shoulder much of the expense on their own, according to Dave Garets, executive director of strategic research for The Advisory Board Company, a research, advisory, consulting, and technology services firm.

“Health care survived the recession pretty well,” Garets says. “Hospitals are doing better than two years ago, and they are chasing meaningful use incentives. Even so, the money only pays for about 25 percent of the cost of implementing the system—which is better than what they would have received without the stimulus: zero percent.  Economically, most hospitals are now in better shape to take on these projects.”


[Source: AMN Healthcare]