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Doctors Receive $4.5 Billion in EHR Incentive Pay

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Some doctors, especially those over 50, resist transitioning to cloud computing and electronic health records (EHR) because they worry about the safety of storing patients’ medical records online or on servers. Studies have shown that hackers, malware and viruses notwithstanding, it’s safer, in the long run, to store patients’ medical records electronically than in a file cabinet. To help motivate doctors to step into the 21st century and get in the habit of using EHRs, the U.S. government implemented a Medicare and Medicaid EHR program.

According to Mary Mosquera in her article for Health IT News, close to 226,000 providers have registered for the Medicare and Medicaid incentive program. California, followed by Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida and New York have the largest number of registered health care providers so far.

During the first quarter of 2012 – January through March – the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) disbursed incentive payments in the amount of $4.5 billion to nearly 77,000 physicians and hospitals, paying more to eligible Medicare practitioners ($339.9 million) than to those eligible for Medicaid ($254.1 million).

This incentivized transition bodes well for managed services providers (MSP) that specialize in serving health care professionals. Many private practice physicians and small health clinics will need the help of MSPs to manage electronic health records, keep their patients’ information safe and remain HIPAA compliant.

Though technology is evolving faster than health care providers can keep up with it, the Medicare and Medicaid incentive program could be just what the doctor ordered to things moving at a faster pace.

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