Indiana’s two Regional Extension Centers (RECs) have gained commitments from more than 2,000 of the state’s primary care physicians and other providers to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) in a meaningful way. But most are just getting started, and it’s not too late to be part of the process – networking, learning and earning along with them.
The Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 50,000 health information technology-related jobs were created since enactment of the HITECH Act. That number is expected to increase 20 percent by 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.
In mid-November, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced the nation’s 62 Regional Extension Centers had achieved the goal of committing 100,000 primary care providers to adopt EHRs.
All across the country, RECs are working in different practice settings to ensure widespread meaningful use of EHRs for clinical documentation, decision making and care coordination. In Indiana, practices are finding the RECs can help them minimize disruption and use their EHR systems to full potential.
Achieving meaningful use means you utilize an EHR system to:
- Exchange health information as part of coordinated care
- Report clinical quality care measures
- Use electronic medical services like e-prescribing
Not too late to earn
Still on the fence about a move to technology for your practice? Now may be the ideal time to commit. You can attest in 2012 without losing any incentive dollars – and avoid penalties that begin in 2015. Remember each physician or “eligible professional” can earn up to $44,000 through 2016 under Medicare and up to $63,750 under Medicaid.
These incentives are not part of health care reform and won’t go away, no matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules next year on the Affordable Care Act. The incentive program was created in 2009 by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.
A majority of offices in the state are still getting started with EHR systems, so you can enjoy good support from your peers, advised Tara Hatfield with Bloomington’s HealthLINC, a partner with the Tri-State REC. “It’s a great time to network, share successes and frustrations, and really be part of this giant movement in health care. Why wouldn't you want to be part of this great time in medical history?”
Some key numbers
The Purdue Regional Extension Center has enrolled 2,188 Indiana providers. Officials there report 421 have already been paid Medicaid incentive dollars and 21 others were approved and await their check. Medicare numbers will be available soon.
“We have witnessed, firsthand, providers making significant strides in switching to an electronically enabled practice,” said Monica Arrowsmith, director of the Purdue REC.
HealthLINC reports 43 of their providers have already attested to meaningful use of their EHRs, 44 percent under Medicaid and 55 percent under Medicare. In total, the Tri-State REC, which assists providers in Ohio, Kentucky and some Indiana counties, has enrolled 1,739 providers who are receiving hands-on assistance with vendor selection, project management and the rules for meaningful use attestation.
To learn more about the two RECs available to help you, visit here for south-central Indiana counties and the Purdue REC here.
|Federal officials grant more time for Stage 2 meaningful use
Already obtained a check for Stage 1 meaningful use? The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has given you more time to reach the tougher Stage 2 standards. You now have until 2014.
The intent of this change was to avoid penalizing providers adopting Stage 1 in 2011 who would then be required to move very quickly into Stage 2.
An official release on Nov. 30 indicated: “…HHS intends to allow doctors and hospitals to adopt health IT this year, without meeting the new standards until 2014. Doctors who act quickly can also qualify for incentive payments in 2011 as well as 2012.”
Find that statement on the HHS website.
The table below illustrates the stage that is relevant to each year of participation in the Medicare EHR incentive program.