Maine to participate in Medicare EHR demo
U.S. Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Tevi Troy visited Maine Wednesday to announce that the state has been named one of 12 sites that will participate in a Medicare demonstration project that offers incentives to physicians for using electronic health records to improve patient care.
Troy met with Gov. John Baldacci and leaders of the Maine Quality Forum to congratulate officials on the state's successful application. HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt had announced the 12 communities earlier this week.
Once the project is fully underway, as many as 1,200 small- and medium-sized primary care physician practices across the nation will receive Medicare incentive payments in exchange for adopting certified EHRs. HHS hopes the effort leads to a reduction in medical errors and improves health outcomes for an estimated 3.6 million Americans.
Troy said the selection committee focused on three qualities that made Maine an attractive project site: (1) a history of effective collaboration in the healthcare community; (2) an urban-rural mix of practices; and (3) local insurers who are enthusiastic about the project and willing to offer incentives to practices.
"Josh Cutler and the Maine Quality Forum have done an excellent job of coordinating Maine's application," Troy said. Cutler, a physician and director of the Maine Quality Forum, served as convener of the state's application process. His organization encouraged physician groups in the state to organize and apply for participation in the CMS project.
In Maine and the other communities selected, 100 small physician practices (from three to 10 physicians) will select and implement an EHR system. The choice of system is up to the practice, but it must be one that is certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, which works under the auspices of HHS.