Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
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1/7/2011
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Kentucky, Oklahoma Issue First U.S. EHR Incentives

The Medicaid electronic health record incentive program opened Monday and the two states have already announced the first awardees.

17 Leading EHR Vendors
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Slideshow: 17 Leading EHR Vendors
The first incentive payments under the Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive program were issued Wednesday by two states -- Oklahoma and Kentucky. The incentive payments were made to hospitals and physicians who have met the program's requirements for the first reporting year.

The University of Kentucky's teaching hospital, University of Kentucky HealthCare, received $2.8 million, while Central Baptist Hospital received $1.3 million, said officials from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).

"Electronic health records can do so much to improve efficiency, reduce medical error, and, ultimately, change the face of the American healthcare system," said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear in a statement. "Being among the first states to receive the Medicaid incentive payments is evidence that Kentucky has established a structure to move these efforts forward and is truly leading the way in this nationwide effort. Kentucky providers are showing their commitment to becoming users of technology that not only stores records in a different way, but also makes it possible to exchange and receive records from other providers and health care facilities."

In the case of UK HealthCare, which is the patient-care enterprise of the University of Kentucky Medical Center, and consists of the 473-bed UK Chandler Hospital, Kentucky Children's Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, UK HealthCare East, and Kentucky Clinics, as well as the Markey Cancer Center, Gill Heart Institute, and the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute, the incentive payment was one-third of the UK HealthCare's overall expected amount for participating in the program.

The CHFS also said 25 additional providers have begun the application process for EHR incentive payments. Over the next four years, Kentucky is expected to receive more than $100 million in incentive payments for hospitals to ensure that its healthcare community is working to implement EHR systems that can share and receive data as part of a statewide exchange. Incentives are also available for physicians and healthcare providers.

In Oklahoma, two physicians at the Gastorf Family Clinic of Durant, Okla. received incentive payments of $21,250 each for having adopted certified EHRs.

In a statement congratulating Drs. Jeff and Melissa Gastorf and the medical employees at the Gastorf Family Clinic of Durant, Garth Splinter, Oklahoma's Medicaid director, said Oklahoma's achievement as the first state to approve eligible medical professionals for payments through the Oklahoma EHR incentive program is a huge accomplishment.

"Oklahomans are fortunate to have medical professionals who care about improving patient care through available improvements in the usage of electronic health records," Splinter said. "This is a huge accomplishment for this practice and for the state of Oklahoma."

Incentive payments for the adoption of certified EHR technology are federally funded under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Registration opened on Monday for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. Under the Medicaid program, payments will be made to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) as they adopt, implement, upgrade, or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology in their first year of participation and demonstrate meaningful use for up to five remaining participation years.

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