The federal Department of Health and Human Resources reached its year-end goal for meaningful use of electronic health records seven months early, HHS officials said this week.
Three months ago, the heads of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT dubbed 2012 the “Year of Meaningful Use,” setting a goal of 100,000 health-care providers’ achieving meaningful use of EHRs by the end of the year. Incentive payments for adopting and using electronic records come through CMS in the form of Medicare and Medicaid incentives. Providers must demonstrate that their EHRs meet federal performance standards.
More than 110,000 eligible professionals and 2,400 hospitals were receiving meaningful-use incentive payments by the end of May, according to HHS. The first EHR incentive payments were made in January 2011.
“Meeting this goal so early in the year is a testament to the commitment of everyone who has worked hard to meet the challenges of integrating EHRs and health information technology into clinical practice,” said Marilyn Tavenner, the acting CMS Administrator, in a HHS news release. “Not only have state Medicaid programs, public health departments and many other stakeholders given their support to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs, but numerous health professionals and hospitals have recognized the potential of EHRs to provide better patient care, cut down on paperwork and eliminate duplicate screenings and tests.”
According to HHS, 20 percent of Medicare- and Medicaid-eligible health-care providers and nearly half of eligible hospitals have achieved meaningful EHR use and received more than $5.7 billion in incentive payments as of May 31. Of the total, $3 billion came from the Medicare incentive program.
“The EHR incentive programs have really helped jump-start the use of electronic health records by health-care providers all across the country,” said Dr. Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator for health IT. “Thanks in great part to the work conducted by the ONC-sponsored Regional Extension Centers (RECs) and Beacon Communities Programs, more and more providers across the country – especially those in rural communities – are now ready to use EHRs.”
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