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Providers Set To Reap Cash from IT Incentive Program

California has a new interim coordinator for health information technology.  Linette Scott stepped in for Jonah Frohlich, who resigned as deputy secretary of health IT at the California Health and Human Services Agency to take a job in the San Francisco law office of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Scott presided over her first stakeholder meeting last week at an opportune time. CMS had just opened up registration for financial incentives for electronic health record implementation.

“This effort is much broader than just an IT project,” Scott said. “This is a way to improve health of all Californians.”

Scott said a recent survey commissioned by the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology shows California medical providers are ahead of the national curve in terms of electronic health records.

“For California, approximately 21% of acute-care facilities are reporting they have at least the basics of EHR,” Scott said, referring to non-federal hospitals. About 22% of office-based physicians also have basic HER, she said.

The bigger news, though, is Scott’s second set of numbers.

“In California, 82% of those hospitals plan to apply [for federal funding for EHR].” And about 40% of the office-based physicians also said they’re ready to convert to EHR.

The state also is busy revising and developing comments on the second stage of meaningful use objectives, Scott said.

“So we’re looking to submit those to the national coordinator,” Scott said. “We published those draft documents, and are looking for comments from people right now. What are some things we might do in stage 2 that could take us to stage 3 [of attaining meaningful use]?”

According to CMS, the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs offer physicians as much as $44,000 through Medicare or $63,750 through Medicaid (in California, Medi-Cal). Hospitals could be eligible for incentive payments of $2 million or more.

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