Advanced-function EHR usage reaches 40 percent

Advanced-function EHR usage reaches 40 percent

An electronic newsletter distributed May 2 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provided a progress report on various federal health IT initiatives, including the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive programs.

Here's a recap of the information provided by CMS:

  • More than 388,000 of the nation’s eligible professionals (EPs) have registered to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, representing 73 percent of all providers eligible to participate. More than 230,000, or 44 percent of all EPs, have received an EHR incentive payment for meaningfully using EHR technology as of March 2013.
  • Physician adoption of EHR systems with advanced functionalities that go beyond the requirements of meaningful use Stage 1 (including physician clinical notes and electronic imaging results) more than doubled between 2008 and 2012, from 17 percent to 40 percent.
  • Office-based physicians’ use of e-prescribing has increased from 0.8 percent in December 2006 to 53 percent through January 2013, and more than 94 percent of all pharmacies are now actively e-prescribing.
  • Regional extension centers, established under the HITECH Act, are providing technical assistance and support to more than 44 percent (130,000) of primary care providers and 48 percent (20,000) of nurse practitioners nationwide.
  • As of March 2013, there are 941 vendors providing more than 1,700 unique certified EHR products.

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the parent agency of CMS, also noted that it "plans to accelerate health information exchange development and build a seamless and secure flow of information essential to transforming the healthcare system in 2013."  HHS emphasized the following priorities for 2013:

  • Increasing the emphasis on interoperability.
  • Enhancing the effective use of EHRs through initiatives similar to the Blue Button Initiative.
  • Implementing Stage 2 of meaningful use.
  • Highlighting program integrity. For example, CMS has implemented audits of providers and hospitals who have adopted health IT.  CMS is also working with state program integrity directors to establish new strategies focused on claims and clinical data from these providers.
  • Aligning existing Medicare and Medicaid quality measurement programs through the eHealth Initiative.

Further details can be viewed here.