A move to­ward elec­tronic med­i­cal records

Modern Healthcare - - Special Report -

The health in­for­ma­tion technology com­mu­nity spends the year 2010 like a vast army gath­er­ing it­self up for war. At the cen­ter of the prepa­ra­tions and con­trol­ling much of the lo­gis­tics was the fed­eral govern­ment. In 2009, the Amer­i­can Re­cov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act called for the cre­ation of an ar­ray of pro­grams to boot­strap the nation to­ward the goal first set by then-Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush in 2004, and adopted by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2009, to make elec­tronic med­i­cal records avail­able for most Amer­i­cans by 2014. The ma­jor part of stim­u­lus law-funded health IT pro­mo­tions is the $27 bil­lion elec­tronic health-record in­cen­tive pro­grams un­der Medi­care, Med­i­caid and Medi­care Ad­van­tage.

The first round of the mean­ing­ful-use cri­te­ria providers must meet to qual­ify for those fed­eral in­cen­tives is re­leased as a fi­nal rule in July. The first pay­ment year for hos­pi­tals un­der the Medi­care EHR in­cen­tive pro­grams be­gins Oct. 1.

Other high­lights:

In Novem­ber, the Health­care In­for­ma­tion and Man­age­ment Sys­tems So­ci­ety re­leases re­sults of its sur­vey of more than 600 hos­pi­tals that found fewer than one in 10 hos­pi­tals could meet most of the mean­ing­ful-use re­quire­ments.

Medi­care and Med­i­caid pro­grams are late get­ting off the start­ing line. As the year ends, nei­ther is sign­ing up hos­pi­tals in their IT in­cen­tive pro­grams, al­though en­roll­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties for Medi­care and for 10 states un­der Med­i­caid are ex­pected to be in place in 2011.

The stim­u­lus law ap­pro­pri­ated $2 bil­lion to the Of­fice of the Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor for Health In­for­ma­tion Technology to fi­nance, chiefly through grants and con­tracts, the bulk of the pro­grams set up in 2010 other than those for di­rect EHR in­cen­tive pay­ments. One of them is the $250 mil­lion Bea­con Com­mu­ni­ties pro­gram in which 17 U.S. cities or re­gions are awarded fed­eral grants. The goal is to set up cut­ting-edge pro­grams for the use of health IT to “tap the best ideas across Amer­ica and demon­strate the enor­mous ben­e­fit health IT will have to im­prov­ing health and care within our com­mu­ni­ties,” says HHS Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Se­be­lius.

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