Many Health Care Providers Plan to Adopt EHR to Qualify for Federal Incentive Payments

Four-fifths of the nation’s hospitals, and 41% of office-based physicians, currently intend to take advantage of federal incentive payments for adoption and meaningful use of certified electronic health records (EHR) technology, according to survey data released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, the national coordinator for Health Information Technology, said the survey numbers represent a reversal of the low interest in EHR adoption in previous years. He credited leadership from the medical community and the federal government for the improved prospects for adoption and use of health information technology (health IT).

“For years we have known that electronic health records would improve care for patients and bring about greater cost effectiveness in our health sector, yet adoption rates by health care providers remained low,” Blumenthal stated in a press release. “In 2009, Congress and the President authorized major new federal support for EHR adoption and use, and in combination with medical professional and hospital leadership. I believe we are seeing the tide turn toward widespread and accelerating adoption and use of health IT.”

The data released Jan. 14, 2011 comes from surveys commissioned by ONC and carried out in the course of regular annual surveillance by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), an agency of HHS’ CDC.

The AHA survey found that 81% of hospitals plan to achieve meaningful use of EHRs and take advantage of incentive payments.

The NCHS survey found that 41% of office-based physicians are currently planning to achieve meaningful use of certified EHR technology and take advantage of the incentive payments. About a third of all office-based physicians (32.4%), responded that they will enroll during Stage 1 of the programs. Only 14% of respondents said they were not planning to apply for meaningful use incentives.

“We are pleased to see this evidence of an enthusiastic early response, and we believe participation will continue to grow, especially as the Nation’s physicians become more familiar with this one-time opportunity to improve care while helping to offset the costs of adopting EHR systems,” Donald Berwick, MD, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) stated.

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