CMS analyzes progress in EHR incentive programs

Although unable on Feb. 21 to give HIMSS 12 attendees an update on release of a new proposed rule for meaningful use Stage 2, representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services supplied a thorough and fast-paced summary of the EHR Incentive Programs for Stage 1.

Elizabeth Holland, MPA, director of HIT initiatives group in the Office of eHealth Standards and Services at CMS, presented statistics showing the number of active registrations for Medicare eligible providers (EPs) has reached 132,445 to date; active registrations for Medicaid EPs has reached 55,9122.

Payment amounts for Medicare physicians (MDs or ODs) have reached $376,416,000 to date. Among those, family practice doctors accounted for $88,128,000 in payments.

Jessica Kahn, MPH, technical director for health IT at the Center for Medicaid and SCHIP Services, said 25 states currently have some kind of payment or care redesign efforts underway, making for a challenging environment in the move from silos of information to a “path of convergence.” Kahn noted that 43 states have launched their Medicaid incentive programs, with more than $1.2 billion in payments dispersed during 2011.

“Medicaid serves the most vulnerable [populations] in the country,” said Kahn, “so we’re talking about physicians at Federally Qualified Health Centers who are taking care of people. Our goal is not just to make the payments, but to really see the care improvements.”

Travis Broome, a policy analyst at CMS, said that all performance thresholds for the CMS programs have been surpassed. For example, EP performance is over 90 percent for information recording and for incorporation of lab results. EPs achieved performance levels for CPOE and e-prescribing of 84 and 79 percent, respectively.

At the state level, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin are leading the way in EP performance for CPOE.

At the same time, Broome said, “transition of care summaries and patient reminders were the least popular menu objectives for EPs.”

Robert Anthony, a health insurance specialist at CMS, said the agency is analyzing how EPs and hospitals can “make the leap from registering to attesting” for meaningful use.

Anthony encouraged attendees to visit the CMS website for a compilation of answers to more than 200 FAQs. He also recommended that EPs and hospital personnel sign up for a CMS-administered listserv to learn about the latest FAQs and answers.

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