CMS EHR incentive payments flirt with $7 billion

By Mary Mosquera
03:41 PM
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Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record payments are approaching $7 billion since its inception, with $6.9 billion paid out to 143,800 physicians and hospitals in total program estimates through the end of August.

Final figures will be available later this month as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid captures more complete data.

In August, the agency paid about $500 million in incentives, with about $325 million going to Medicare providers and $175 million to Medicaid providers, “which will bring us knocking on the door of $7 billion in incentive payments issued as of the end of last month,” said Robert Anthony, a specialist in CMS’ Office of eHealth Standards and Services. 

He reported the latest EHR incentive program statistics at the Sept. 6 Health IT Policy Committee meeting

In July, the totals were $6.6 billion since the program’s start paid to 132,511 eligible providers.

As of July, nearly 1 out of every 5 Medicare eligible provider, or about 18 percent are meaningful users of EHRs., he said. Additionally, 1 out of every 4 Medicare and Medicaid eligible providers has made a financial commitment to an EHR, he said. And 55 percent of eligible hospitals have received an EHR incentive payment for meaningful use.

As of July, 271,105 Medicare and Medicaid physicians and hospitals have registered to participate in the incentive program, tracking at about 10,300 monthly, he said. Breaking down the total, that’s 180,513 Medicare physicians, 86,708 Medicaid clinicians and 3,884 hospitals.

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Even as more physicians and hospitals participate in the incentive program, nothing has changed related to their level of performance in the attestation data, Anthony said.

“The longer we go saying that not much has changed, the more encouraging that trend actually is because it is an indication that more and more providers are coming in, yet everybody is performing at a statistically high level,” he said.

Providers tend to exceed the required threshold of performance for recording objectives for problem list, medications list or medication-allergy list. And there is little difference in performance among physicians and hospitals, Anthony said.

“As we move into August, we’re no longer looking at just the early adopters, we’re looking at people who may still be in their first year of meaningful use, but they’re not necessarily the people who are at the beginning of the curve. Yet we continue to see very high performance across the board on all the objectives,” he said.

“We will be better informed when we have people returning later in 2012, and we can do a comparison of meaningful use in a second full-year period vs. a 90-day period,” Anthony noted.

Besides the required measures, the most popular menu objectives to attest to are advance directives, drug formulary and clinical lab test results for hospitals; and drug formulary, immunization registry and patient lists for physicians. The least popular measure is the transitions of care summaries for both.

 

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Sue Murphy, RN, chief experience and innovation officer, patient experience and engagement program, at The University of Chicago Medicine: "One thing we do in keeping senior leaders involved is send information to them in a very data-driven, date-based fashion, so they know they will see certain patient experience outcomes metrics, for example, between the 15th and the 18th of every month."