News | February 22, 2012

Healthcare Making Strides Toward Use of Electronic Medical Records

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the number of hospitals using health information technology (IT) has more than doubled in the last two years. She also announced new data showing that nearly 2,000 hospitals and more than 41,000 doctors have received $3.1 billion in incentive payments for ensuring meaningful use of health IT, particularly certified electronic health records (EHR).

“Health IT is the foundation for a truly 21st-century health system where we pay for the right care, not just more care,” said Sebelius.  “Health care professionals and hospitals are taking advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to begin using smarter, new technology that improves care and creates the jobs we need for an economy built to last.”

The announcement details information from a new survey conducted by the American Hospital Association and reported by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, which found that the percentage of U.S. hospitals adopting EHRs more than doubled from 16 to 35 percent between 2009 and 2011. In addition 85 percent of hospitals now report that by 2015 they intend to take advantage of the incentive payments made available through the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

The announcement also highlights new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) detailing $3.12 billion in incentive payments the agency has made to physicians, hospitals and other health care providers who have started to meaningfully use EHRs to improve the quality of patient care. In January alone, CMS provided $519 million to eligible providers. EHR incentive payments can total as much as $44,000 under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and $63,750 under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of health IT jobs across the country is expected to increase by 20 percent from 2008 to 2018, a pace much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. 

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