Blumenthal Cuts Ribbon On EHR Incentives Program

More than 100 healthcare organizations had already applied for federal electronic health records incentives before the program launched at an event with National Coordinator David Blumenthal.
17 Leading EHR Vendors
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Slideshow: 17 Leading EHR Vendors

On Jan. 10, more than 125 health IT stakeholders, including hospital executives, IT professionals, physicians, and medical and public health students convened at George Washington University Hospital to kick off the start of the government's electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use registration process.

David Blumenthal, MD, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), headlined the event. He shared information from a Department of Health and Human Services survey which claimed 81% of hospitals plan to take advantage of the incentive payment program.

Gretchen Tegethoff, CIO of George Washington University Hospital, said GWU was approached by both the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) to host the event. "Given our location in the nation's capitol and the distance from the White House, this was the perfect venue to hold the kickoff, with hospitals committing to achieving meaningful use. So that's how the event really got started. It was a team effort to decide who the speakers and attendees were going to be, so we got a really nice group of national, regional, and local participants all working on the incentive program."

At the time of the event, Tegethoff said 100 hospitals had enrolled in the program, though she personally had seen the road would have some bumps. "We have run into some of the little snags, but we have started our registration."

Other speakers included leadership from HIMSS and CHIME; representatives from ONC grantees the D.C. Primary Care Association and D.C. Department of Health Care Finance; CIOs from three area hospitals and Stephen Badger, CEO of the GW Medical Faculty Associates, one of the largest private physician groups in the District.

Tegethoff said the event paid dividends for her staff beyond the statistics shared. "One thing this event did, which was a great thing to see, was it really brought even more enthusiasm into what we're trying to do at our hospital. We had physicians, we had administration, we had students from the university, we had people from D.C. agencies and associations, directors, and nurses. I think them seeing the event, and the way it was put together, helped them really see the overall picture of what we're trying to do, and it's more than just replacing systems here at the hospital. That's what they see on an everyday basis, that we're implementing new systems, that we're working on changing policies, but I think they got to see and hear there are bigger objectives that we're looking to meet, and that we're doing this for bigger reasons than just replacing our systems to find better systems."

Under both Medicare and Medicaid, eligible hospitals may receive millions for becoming meaningful users of certified EHR technology. Individual practitioners who qualify may receive up to $44,000 from Medicare or $63,750 from Medicaid.

Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at [email protected]