In efforts to reform the United States healthcare system and create a nationally unified data exchange system the federal government has established an incentive program to eligible professionals and hospitals. The federal government has turned to certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to help facilitate the process of broadening health IT infrastructures. The federal government views EHR system used in meaningful ways as the key to reforming the healthcare systems. Meaningful use of the EHR systems can also improve the overall quality of healthcare, insure patient safety, as well as reduce the cost of healthcare to individuals (Bigalke & Morris, 2010, p. 116). The responsibility of employing the new EHR Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs has been given to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. CMS established and launched standards and managed the implementation specifications. CMS also oversaw the certification criteria, including the certification process for the EHR technology. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also insured the safety of the patients by establishing privacy and security protections under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act (Burchill, 2010, p. 232). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provided incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals that are determined to be meaningful users of a certified EHR program. According to an article by Jones, Heaton, Friedberg, and Schneider (2011) incentives totals may add up to $27 billion dollars between the years 2011-2016. Implementing electronic health record systems (EHR) is simply not enough to qualify for incentive payments, qualified healthcare professionals and hospitals must also be able to demonstrate meaningful use of the technology. The article also states that while meaningful use incentives will be paying a variety of healthcare providers, a substantial amount of the incentive payments will be directed toward hospitals. Hospitals may be eligible for $3.5-$6.1 million dollars in incentive payments. Also, a recent study indicates that more than 80% of hospitals intend to apply for meaningful use incentive payments (p. 2005). Incentives are currently being used as a means of pushing all healthcare providers and hospitals into adopting the EHR program. While incentives are currently being offered to help further along the adoption process, “after 2015, the reimbursement that provides receive for care will be reduced if they are not on par with the implementation metrics” (Hussain, 2011, p. 690). According to the article Public Health Surveillance and Meaningful Use Regulations: A Crisis of Opportunity, providers who meet the meaningful use standards established by CMS could receive incentive payments up to $44,000 for each Medicare provider, and up to $63,000 for each Medicaid provider. The article also states that providers who do not meet the CMS standards by 2015 will be faced with substantial penalties. These penalties start at 1% reduction rate in reimbursement and can potentially increase to 5% by the year 2020 (Lenert & Sundwall, 2012, p. e1). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Incentive Program issued a set of standards that governs the use of electronic health records and allows eligible providers and hospitals to earn incentive payments by meeting specific criteria. The meaningful use goal is to improve health care in the United States by encouraging the use of electronic health records. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Program website the benefits of meaningful use of EHR include: •
Complete and accurate information- With electronic health records, providers have the information they need to provide the best possible care. Providers will know more about their patients and their health history before they walk into the examination room. •...
References: Lenert, L., & Sundwall, D. N. (2012). Public Health Surveillance and Meaningful Use Regulations: A Crisis of Opportunity. American Journal Of Public Health, 102(3), e1-e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300542
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