Urban providers dominated 2011 Medicare EHR incentive payments


As required by the HITECH Act, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report on the numbers and characteristics of providers awarded Medicare EHR Incentive Program payments during 2011.

The incentive program awarded 761 hospitals and 56,585 professionals a total of approximately $2.3 billion for 2011 – $1.3 billion to hospitals and $1 billion to eligible professionals, according to the GAO report, which was released July 26.

The 56,585 professionals who were awarded a Medicare EHR incentive payment for 2011 represented about 9 percent of the estimated 600,172 professionals eligible for the program, and were awarded a total of about $967 million in incentive payments. Among professionals awarded an incentive payment for 2011, GAO found:

  • The largest proportion (32 percent) were located in the South, and the lowest proportion (17 percent) were located in the West.
  • A significant majority (89 percent) were in urban areas.
  • Half (50 percent) were specialty practice physicians and over one-third (38 percent) were general practice physicians.
  • Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) did not previously participate in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)’s incentive program for electronic prescribing.
  • About half were in the top third in terms of 2010 Medicare Part B charges (46 percent) and 2010 Medicare Part B patient encounters (51 percent).

Professionals with certain characteristics were more likely to have been awarded a Medicare EHR incentive payment for 2011. For example, general practice physicians were 1.8 times more likely than specialty practice physicians to have been awarded an incentive payment. Professionals who had previously participated in CMS’s electronic prescribing program were almost four times more likely to have been awarded an incentive payment than those who had not participated in the electronic prescribing program, and professionals who had signed an agreement to receive technical assistance from a regional extension center were more than twice as likely to have been awarded an incentive payment.

Professionals in the top third in terms of 2010 Medicare Part B charges or number of 2010 Medicare Part B encounters were more than three times more likely to have been awarded an incentive payment compared to those in the bottom third for charges or number of encounters.
 

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