While only nine percent of hospitals in the U.S. could demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs) in 2008, five years later that figure has jumped to 80 percent, according to the latest information available from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services HHS). The proportion of eligible professionals (mostly physicians) using advanced EHRs shot up from 17 percent in 2008 to more than 50 percent by April 2013, according to HHS. “We have reached the tipping point in adoption of electronic health records,” according to a May 22 statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The Obama Administration attributes much of the surge in adoption to its Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Under Medicare, eligible professionals can receive $44,000 over five years if they can demonstrate “meaningful use” of EHR systems, including the ability to record clinical information and write prescriptions electronically. Failure to do so will result in Medicare payment penalties for practitioners beginning in 2015. Professionals choosing the Medicaid incentive program can receive $63,750 over six years, but aren’t subject to Medicaid payment reductions for failing to achieve “meaningful use.” For more information, visit the news section of the HHS website at www.hhs.gov/news.