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It Pays To Adopt Electronic Health Records

Providers throughout California are about to get a significant amount of help in establishing their electronic health record systems, according to Raul Ramirez, chief of the state’s Office of Health IT.

“Our hope is to launch the incentive program on April 1,” he said. “We’ve been in contact with CMS (federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), and we expect feedback any time now.”

If the launch goes as planned, providers could start seeing incentive payments starting in May, Ramirez said.

Yesterday, Ramirez addressed the California e-health stakeholders meeting, moderated by the state’s acting director of health information technology, Linette Scott.

“We want to encourage providers to register for Medicaid and Medicare EHR incentive programs,” Scott said. “Registration is open, and meaningful use attestation for Medicare is anticipated for April 2011, with incentive payments anticipated in May.” It’s a similar timetable for Medi-Cal incentives, she said.

Scott also pointed to a recent review of the level of success of EHR technology in the policy journal Health Affairs. “The article found a large preponderance of positive outcomes for HIT deployment,” Scott said. “They reviewed the literature, and found that 92 percent of the recent articles on health information technology showed positive effects for HIT.”

Most of the earlier analysis of health IT tended to be larger groups, she said, but this review of literature included many smaller provider groups and practices.

According to the state Health and Human Services agency, California stands to get about $1 billion from federal CMS health IT incentive programs.

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