CMS Offers Financial Assistance for EHR Implementation

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has developed a new incentive program for EHRs.

It comes as no surprise that a task force appointed by the Maryland Legislature to study Electronic Health Records (EHR) implementation reported that cost was one of the major barriers to incorporating EHRs into practice. In addition to the “high initial financial investment” required to implement an EHR system, additional barriers identified by the task force included “the high initial amount of physician time investment; slow and uncertain return on investment; uncertainty regarding liability; and product immaturity.”

This is not the first time that cost has been identified as an impediment, and in an effort to further study the issue, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has developed a new incentive program that aims to “foster the implementation and adoption of EHRs and health information technology (HIT) more broadly as effective vehicles not only to improve the quality of care provided, but also to transform the way medicine is practiced and delivered…[It] is designed to leverage the combined forces of private and public payers to drive physician practices to widespread adoption and use of EHRs.”

The incentive program offers up to $58,000 per physician or $290,000 per practice, over the course of five years, to install an EHR by end of the program’s second year. Specifically, payment will include a yearly payment for participation in a survey, payment after the second year for reporting clinical quality measures, and payment from the “third through fifth years of the demonstration for performance on the clinical quality measures.”

Basis of Payment

Years Applicable

Max per Provider / Year

Max per Practice/Year

EHR Adoption (OSS)

All 5 years

$5,000

$25,000

Reporting of Clinical Quality Measures

Year 2

$3,000

$15,000

Performance on Clinical Quality Measures

Years 3-5

$10,000

$50,000

Total Potential Payment over 5 years

$58,000

$290,000

Source:

Maryland Health Care Commission

To be eligible, physicians must work in a practice of less than 20 people and focus on primary care. The program is currently recruiting participants until November 26, 2008 in 12 regions, including Louisiana, Maryland and the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. The demonstration will go from June 1, 2009-May 31, 2014.

Additional information can be found here.

Maryland Healthcare Commission EHR Product Portfolio

In addition to participating in the CMS EHR demonstration, the Maryland Healthcare Commission is offering an EHR product portfolio to further encourage the use of EHRs among physicians. The commission created a portfolio that “contains a core set of product information that will assist physicians in assessing EHRs. The Portfolio includes only those vendors that met the most stringent CCHIT certification standards relating to functionality, interoperability, and security.” It lists 23 vendors who are CCHIT-certified and participating vendors “have provided details regarding product information, pricing, privacy and security policies (for Application Service Providers), and user references.”

Vendors are offering discounts to all physicians based in the United States through this product portfolio. For further information, please click here.