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Physicians Medical Center faced increasing challenges with decentralized patient information among its various practice locations. CEO, Sharron Grodzinsky wanted to prepare the group for imminent changes in the industry and decided that integrating its Electronic Health Record and Practice Management systems was the right decision. Read this story to learn how the medical center has realized better care, centralized and easily accessible patient data, as well as eligibility for Medicare incentives for using ePrescribing.

EHR incentive payments to eligible providers reach $2.6 billion


About half of eligible providers (EPs) have registered for EHR incentive payments, according to spokespersons from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the incentive programs. The officials shared program figures through September 2012 during the HIMSS Government Health IT Virtual Briefing on Oct. 17.

[See also: CMS and ONC offer detailed looks at EHR and health IT data]

With some growing pains, the meaningful use program has emerged as a model for multi-stakeholder collaboration in healthcare, Rob Tagalicod, director of CMS’s Office of Health Standards and Services, commented. Nearly 81 percent of hospitals have registered.

Although registration doesn’t necessarily mean that providers will participate, “we’re really happy with these numbers,” Elizabeth Shinberg Holland, director of CMS’s HIT Initiatives Group, said.

As of September, about $7.7 billion has been disbursed through meaningful use incentive payments — about $1.4 billion for Medicare EPs, $1.2 billion to Medicaid EPs and about 4.8 billion to eligible hospitals.

[See also: CMS adds detail on proposed clinical quality measures for 2014]

Among the most common EHR menu objectives chosen for attestation, CMS has found, are immunization registry, drug formulary and patient lists for EPs and advance directives, drug formulary and clinical lab results for eligible hospitals.

Among the least popular menu objectives for EPs are transitions of care and patient reminders, and transitions of care and syndromic surveillance for hospitals.

“It is a little concerning to us,” Holland said, that the least popular menu objectives are also ones that tend to involve interoperability. That’s a sign that the pursuit of interoperability remains a hurdle, Holland said.

Among signs of progress, Holland added, Medicare providers who have been meaningful users for 90 days tend to use EHRs for every patient and appear to be embracing the technology as part of their workflow, even if they’re deferring on some menu objectives.

Looking at the current state of EHR adoption in the United States, Holland said, it’s important to keep in mind that although there’s been a lot of success -- with many providers continuing through Stage 2 to clinical data demonstrations -- some providers are just now thinking of adopting EHRs.

Comments (2)

Sue Ann: I think it is important to remember that this is a very frustrating process, and this sector of the population is "smarter than the average bear," so those things that get in the way or slow down patient care when the medical personnel is under pressure to see patients (for whatever reason) will get "stood on their ear:" eg, the doc in California who was supposed to collect ethnic information on each patient, and the first one on the pull down list was "Albanian," so a large portion of the population in that area is now Albanian. There will be other things that will get treated the same way. IT people think "how cool," and providers think, "what do I have to do so I can get home to play with/talk to my children?"
R L FURIGAY MD: EHR is a burden. It's a waste of health resources. It has interfered patient nurse-physician relationship. It has become very impersonal. I know it has not improve the quality of care. What I usually able to do in 10 minutes, it now takes me 30-40 minutes to complete. I guess this is the whole idea so you see less patients and save more money for the system.

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