EHR Adopters Get More Time to Meet Meaningful Use Standards
Physicians and facilities will have more time to qualify for government incentives to achieve meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs).
Under the current requirements, eligible doctors and hospitals that begin participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program this year would have to meet new standards for the program in 2013. If they did not participate in the program until 2012, they could wait to meet these new standards until 2014 and still be eligible for the same incentive.
To encourage faster EHR adoption, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Nov. 30 that HHS intends to allow doctors and hospitals to adopt EHRs this year without meeting the new meaningful use standards until 2014. Doctors who act quickly can also qualify for incentive payments in 2011, as well as 2012.
Along with the relaxed timeline, HHS plans to provide more information to doctors and hospitals about best practices to meaningfully use EHRs. As an example, HHS will target outreach, education, and training to physicians and facilities that have registered in the EHR incentive program, but have not yet met the requirements for meaningful use. The Obama administration has also initiated a workforce development program to help train new health information technology (IT) workers. The training is provided through 82 community colleges and nine universities nationwide.
HHS will continue with existing outreach efforts, among them a nationwide network of 62 regional extension centers. The extension centers are made up of local nonprofits that provide guidance and resources to help eligible health care providers participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs and meaningfully use of health IT.