HHS Ups Payments to E-health Adopters

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week unveiled a new five-year initiative that will provide higher Medicare reimbursements to physicians who use electronic health records (EHR).

The agency said the increased reimbursements should offset the cost of implementing EHR software and of training and support programs. Those costs have been cited by small and midsize practices as the primary reasons for not adopting EHRs.

Last week, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt said the agencys Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will begin the program next spring, targeting 1,200 practices that have three to five physicians that serve a total of 3.6 million patients.

During the first year of the program, practices that use certified EHRs will be given higher reimbursements, Leavitt said. In the second year, payments will increase for physicians who use the software to compare their performance against national standards for care. The rate will increase further in the third year for practices that improve quality of care, according to Leavitt.

We want to learn and indeed to get better at paying for value and not just volume, he said.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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