Thursday, March 7, 2013

CMS and ONC Renew Push for EHR Implementation

The heads of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies (CMS) and the federal health information technology office stated this week that they will renew their efforts to implement electronic health records in hospitals and provider offices throughout the country. To do this, they are soliciting ideas for incentive programs and ways to improve the implementation process, according to a CQ report.

On Wednesday, Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), announced a “request for information” to invite comments on how to speed up information exchanges. The request specifies that implementing the information exchanges is crucial to reforming the healthcare system, and CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said that they must be a routine part of care delivery.

The request for information is designed to solicit ideas for incentive programs that will reward providers for implementing the systems to lower costs and improve quality of care. The information exchanges are expected to speed the pace of sharing lab results, medical imaging, prescription drug use summaries, and other clinical data. This will avoid wasteful duplication of tests and treatments, and ward off medical errors. 

The goal of this new push is to have 50 percent of doctors’ offices using electronic health records by the end of 2013, and 80 percent of eligible hospitals receiving “meaningful use” incentive payments by that time. 

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