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9/30/2011
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Discounted EHRs Offered To Doctors In N.C.

Allscripts has joined forces with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to expand the reach of its MyWay electronic health record tool.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) recently announced that it will join forces with Allscripts Health Care Solutions in a $23 million dollar initiative that will provide 750 North Carolina physicians, including 150 physicians in 39 free clinics, with the Allscripts MyWay electronic health record (EHR).

The new initiative, dubbed the North Carolina Program to Advance Technology for Health (NC PATH), will target small independent practices and free clinics that have limited budgets and are finding it too expensive to implement EHRs.

To help small practices and free clinics buy and implement an EHR, Allscripts will invest $8 million while BCBSNC will contribute $15 million to the project, which will pay for 85% of the software and setup costs for 600 physicians at eligible independent practices and 100% of the costs for 39 eligible free clinics over the next five years. The funds will also contribute to the training and support that are critical to the successful use of an EHR.

"From a financial perspective, physicians that apply for HITECH Act incentives have to pay out of pocket and are then reimbursed. NC PATH allows physicians to purchase and implement an EHR without having to come up with all the money out of pocket," Brad Wilson, BCBSNC president and CEO, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

[ Which healthcare organizations came out ahead in the IW500 competition? See 10 Healthcare IT Innovators: InformationWeek 500. ]

"By addressing the out-of-pocket costs, we are making EHR adoption and implementation easy for physicians. These physicians are still eligible for HITECH incentives, which they can use to address other costs, such as hardware, that are required to implement and utilize the EHR solution," he said.

When asked what the return on investment would be for BCBSNC, Wilson said EHR technology can eliminate inefficiencies, such as reducing unnecessary procedures, test duplications, and other waste that drive up medical costs by 20%.

Not only will the funding provide support toward achieving Meaningful Use requirements under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, but the technology purchased will also assist providers to achieve Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition from organizations such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Once primary care practices become PCMH recognized, they are in a better position to receive pay-for-performance opportunities through state agencies, health plans, and regional independent practice associations.

"We know the independent primary care physicians are vital to a competitive and therefore affordable healthcare market," Wilson said. "These physicians greatly impact quality, and are eligible to receive their Patient Centered Medical Home recognition--yet another way we are working to help improve healthcare quality to rein in costs."

To further support the NC PATH initiative, BCBSNC is working with other organizations dedicated to the implementation of health information technology such as the NC Area Health Education Center Regional Extension Center, which will help to identify and enhance quality improvement opportunities within a participating practice's data reporting systems so that they can achieve PCMH recognition. Additionally, BCBSNC and Allscripts are working with the North Carolina Health Information Exchange to create an HIE that will allow for the exchange and sharing of patient data among providers.

Not every application is ready for the cloud, but two case studies featured in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Healthcare offer some insights into what does work. Also in this issue: Keeping patient data secure isn't all that hard. But proposed new regulations could make it a lot harder. Download it now. (Free with registration.)

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Lisa Henderson
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Lisa Henderson,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2011 | 12:30:16 AM
re: Discounted EHRs Offered To Doctors In N.C.
It will be interesting to see if these physicians will participate in the financing program.

Lisa Henderson, InformationWeek Healthcare, contributing editor
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