Health IT Pulse

Jan 17 2011   1:48PM GMT

EHR Incentive Program participation has ONC ‘gratified’

Beastwood Profile: Beastwood

EHR incentive program
meaningful use incentives

There’s been a lot of debate about the merits of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program and the federal government’s ambitious timeline for meeting meaningful use criteria that providers have to follow if they want to reap the program’s benefits. Many have said the initiative is too much, too soon. Two recent surveys, however, suggest that health care providers may think otherwise.

The National Center for Health Statistics within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than 6,000 physicians and found that 41% of eligible providers plan to achieve meaningful use. Most plan to apply for the EHR Incentive Program this year to maximize their incentives, National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. David Blumenthal pointed out in his Coordinator’s Corner blog.

The news from hospitals is even better. An American Hospital Association (AHA) survey found that 81% of hospitals plan to achieve meaningful use, with nearly two-thirds of them applying early as well. This survey stands in stark contrast to an earlier AHA survey, which argued that only 2% of hospitals are ready for meaningful use.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is “gratified that such sizeable percentages of physicians and hospitals intend to take the plunge — and to take the plunge sooner rather than later,” Blumenthal wrote in his blog.

Admittedly, it would be nice to see a greater percentage of individual physicians planning to get money from the EHR Incentive Program, because more doctors using EHR systems will ultimately lead to more doctors being able to participate in health information exchange.

The first EHR Incentive Program checks were awarded last week. With that and with an increasing number of regional extension centers naming preferred EHR vendors to narrow the selection process and ease EHR implementation, physician participation is bound to rise.

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