For more than 40 Indiana physicians and hospitals, compliance with new federal electronic recordkeeping standards could net more than $10 million in incentives as they adopt information technology systems geared to improve their operations and the level of patient care.
During an event Tuesday ( June 14 ), the Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center at Purdue University announced the federal incentives. Those funds will go to those organizations that have or will have met a June 30 deadline for meeting the eligibility requirements to receive Medicare or Medicaid Electronic Health Record ( EHR ) initial incentive payments.
The announcement comes just weeks after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ( CMS ) began the "meaningful use" ( MU ) attestation process, which is based on a set of national priorities identified to help focus performance improvement efforts. Among these priorities are patient engagement, reduction of racial disparities, improved safety, increased efficiency, coordination of care and improved population health. An additional area related to privacy and security was included to emphasize the importance of protecting patient health information and ensuring patient trust in the use of electronic health records.
"The adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records are important steps in transforming our health-care system to deliver better care for individuals, better health for populations and lower costs through quality improvement," said Dr. Derek Robinson, M.D., chief medical director for CMS - Region V and a speaker at the event.
During the event on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus, the center recognized 41 organizations as leaders in the Indiana health-care industry by designating them "Indiana EHR MUvers" and presenting them with official certificates from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, operating under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"We are recognizing this group of health-care providers because they are leading the charge in our state to use electronic health records to improve patient care and make health care healthier," said I-HITEC director Monica Arrowsmith. "These providers will move our understanding of health care forward by connecting the dots electronically between multiple providers, making relevant information available at the point of care and setting the stage for a truly holistic treatment approach."
Three health-care organizations - Haendiges & Associates PC of Kokomo; Harrison Family Medicine of Corydon; and Dr. Arthur F. Wang, M.D., of Mishawaka - were praised for being the first in the state to reach the federal benchmark for meaningful use of electronic health records technology.
Haendiges & Associates PC owner and practicing physician Dr. Michelle Haendiges, M.D., said: "My patients don't have to call into the doctor's office for lab results because we now have a secure, Web-based portal that gives patients access to their own clinical information - in detail and without unnecessary delays."
The remaining 38 health-care organizations were recognized for their commitment to adopt, implement and upgrade their information technology systems in preparation to qualify as meaningful electronic health record users.
"The goals of meaningful use as proposed by CMS nicely mirror and will help enhance what is already our mission – to provide cost-effective, high-quality medical care to the underserved populations in our local neighborhoods," said Dr. Richard Reifenberg, M.D., associate medical director for Indianapolis-based HealthNet Inc., which operates as Indiana's largest Federally Qualified Health Center. "Purdue was instrumental in assisting us to navigate the complex task of applying for the meaningful use provider incentive program. We could not have done it without them."
The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included $17 billion to pay doctors incentives of up to $44,000 per person if they reach the government's meaningful use standards early. Medicare incentive payments will expire in 2016, according to a CMS document, while doctors who have not met the meaningful use standards by 2015 risk having their Medicare reimbursement rates reduced and will receive less money for treating Medicare patients.
Tuesday's announcement was hosted by the Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center and sponsored by health IT software vendors athenahealth, iSALUS Healthcare and NextGen Healthcare.
About the Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center ( I-HITEC )
The Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center ( http://www.ihitec.purdue.edu ), also known as the Purdue Regional Extension Center, is one of several regional centers across the United States funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Department of Health and Human Services to assist providers in adopting and implementing electronic health records to an appropriate level of meaningful use. For more information, contact I-HITEC at 765-496-1911 or firstname.lastname@example.org