Relatively Few Physician Practices Meet EHR Standard

While the vast majority of physicians in the U.S. are eligible to apply for Medicare or Medicaid incentives that support the use of electronic health record (EHR) systems, few practices actually meet the “meaningful use” standards required to receive such payments. That’s the conclusion from a survey of a representative sample of 3,996 physicians across the U.S. published in the current online edition of the journal Health Affairs. The authors found that while 91 percent of physicians met Medicare and/or Medicaid eligibility requirements in 2011, only 11 percent of doctors both intended to apply for incentive payments and actually met most of required Stage 1 “meaningful use” criteria. Under federal law, practices can receive $44,000 over five years under the Medicare program or $63,750 over six years under Medicaid if they can demonstrate capabilities in such areas as recording problems, medication and allergies electronically; transmitting prescriptions to pharmacies electronically and electronic exchange of clinical summaries with other providers. Researchers find physicians are more likely to indicate intention to apply for incentive payments if they are under the age of 55, engaged in primary care and work in practices of more than eleven practitioners. While demonstrating a “great discrepancy” overall between intention to apply for incentive payments and actual readiness to do so, the authors note that 62 federally-funded Regional Extension Centers (RECs) are now offering valuable technical assistance to practices implementing EHR systems. IPRO is an active participant in the New York eHealth Collaborative REC. For more on IPRO’s activities, visit the Ambulatory Care/Electronic Health Records section of the IPRO website at www.ipro.org. To read the article “Most Physicians Were Eligible for Federal Incentives in 2011, But Few Had EHR Systems That Met Meaningful-Use Criteria,” visit http://content.healthaffairs.org.