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Focus on Healthcare: Final Electronic Health Record Incentive Program Regulations

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If you deploy and use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology, you may be eligible for financial incentives.
December 16, 2010

If you deploy and use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology, you may be eligible for financial incentives.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was signed into to law on February 17, 2009, includes provisions to provide financial incentives to those eligible healthcare providers that deploy and use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology.

The act also required the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enact regulations to distribute the incentives to the eligible providers.

On July 28, 2010, HHS issued the final regulations outlining various provisions related to the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program, with the most notable being the guidelines defining the “meaningful use” of EHR technology. HHS has a phased approach in defining and implementing the meaningful use criteria.

Phase One

Phase one of the criteria will focus on capturing health information in a coded format. The emphasis will be on tracking clinical conditions and communicating the information for care coordination purposes, implementing clinical decision support tools to facilitate disease management, and reporting clinical quality measures and public health information.

The phase one implementation begins in January 2011 with phase 2 and 3 to follow over the next several years.

Phase Two

Phase two will expand on the phase one criteria to encourage the use of health IT for continuous quality improvement at the point of care and the exchange of information through computerized provider order entry and electronic transmission of diagnostic test (such as: lab tests, cardiac imaging, etc.) results.

Phase Three

This phase focuses on promoting improvements in quality, safety and efficiency with an emphasis on patient access to self management tools, access to comprehensive patient data and improving population health.

In addition, the regulations provide guidance on how eligible professionals can register and receive the inventive payments for deploying certified EHR technology.

Eligible professionals who have EHR technology operational by early 2011 can receive up to $44,000 in payments over a five-year period. The incentive payment program will be administered by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the payments will start as early as May of 2011 The full text of the proposed regulations can be found here.


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