Regional center helps 1,100 health professionals achieve meaningful use

On a national level, more than 100,000 physicians have received EHR incentive pay since the program began in 2011.

By — Posted July 18, 2012

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The New York eHealth Collaborative has become the first — and so far, only — regional extension center in the country to help more than 1,000 physicians and other professionals meet meaningful use incentive requirements.

More than 60 regional extension centers were created thanks to more than $640 million allocated by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, a part of the 2009 economic stimulus package. The goal was to sign up at least 100,000 physicians in small practices, especially those in rural communities, to help them achieve meaningful use.

Practices can earn up to $44,000 per physician over five years from Medicare or nearly $64,000 over six years from Medicaid if they show meaningful use of EHRs.

The NYeC center has signed up more than 5,600 practitioners across New York. More than 1,100 had achieved stage 1 of meaningful use through June. The meaningful use incentive programs will have three stages. Each will have additional requirements that build on the previous stage.

One advantage New York has is that a large number of physicians were already using EHRs when the meaningful use program launched in 2011. At least 3,971 of the center’s clients had EHRs when they signed up with the center, said Paul Wilder, director of product marketing and adoption for NYeC. Only 10 of the practices that achieved meaningful use were new EHR users.

One of those early adopters was Myrtle Street Obstetrics and Gynecology in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The practice implemented an EHR system six years ago and was the first in the state to achieve meaningful use.

Practice administrator Louise West said Myrtle Street adopted an EHR because it knew “not only would it improve the care we provide our patients, it creates measurable efficiencies that allow us to run a tighter business. Achieving meaningful use is just the next step for us in continuing to embrace health technology.”

The Dept. of Health and Human Services said that through May, more than 133,000 primary care physicians and 10,000 specialists had signed on with RECs to help achieve meaningful use. More than 100,000 physicians had received incentive pay.

Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health information technology at HHS, credited the RECs with helping to get physicians ready for the meaningful use program.

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