21,000 Healthcare Providers Registered For EHR Incentives

More than $20 million has already been disbursed in the Medicaid electronic health record incentive program in its first two months, as the parallel Medicare program prepares for its May launch.
Top 10 Healthcare Stories Of 2010
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Top 10 Healthcare Stories Of 2010

Medicare providers will be able to attest to meaningful use when the system opens by late April, and issuance of Medicare payments is scheduled to begin in May.

This year, eligible Medicare professionals and hospitals will demonstrate meaningful use through CMS' Web-based Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive program registration and attestation system.

CMS explained in a statement that in the registration and attestation system, providers will fill in numerators and denominators for the meaningful use objectives and clinical quality measures; indicate if they qualify for exclusions to specific objectives; and legally attest that they have successfully demonstrated meaningful use. Once providers have completed a successful online submission through the attestation system, they will be eligible for a Medicare EHR incentive payment, said CMS.

The Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs were established by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Under HITECH, Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments will be available to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) when they adopt certified EHR technology and successfully demonstrate "meaningful use" of the technology in ways that improve quality, safety, and effectiveness of patient-centered care.

"The HITECH Act marked a new level of national commitment to health information technology. The implementation of HITECH is in high gear," David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health IT, said in a statement. "HHS has built a strong foundation of support, and healthcare providers are responding. We are seeing a rapidly accelerating pace toward the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs. The result will be better quality and more effective care, which benefits both patients and providers."