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ONC: 4 in 5 Hospitals Will Claim EHR Incentives

Four-fifths of the nation's hospitals and 41% of office-based physicians plan to cash in on as much as $27 billion in federal incentives for adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records technology, according to survey data from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. 

The survey information was released Thursday on the first day of the registration period for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. 

David Blumenthal, MD, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, says the survey results show a reversal of the low interest in EHR adoption in previous years, and he credited leaders in the medical community and the federal government for the improved prospects for adoption and use of health information technology. 

"For years we have known that electronic health records would improve care for patients and bring about greater cost effectiveness in our health sector, yet adoption rates by health care providers remained low," Blumenthal said. "In 2009, Congress and the president authorized major new federal support for EHR adoption and use, and in combination with medical professional and hospital leadership. I believe we are seeing the tide turn toward widespread and accelerating adoption and use of health IT."

The ONC survey results are consistent with the latest HealthLeaders Media Insight Report, which shows that healthcare physician leaders and executives mostly support the national initiative to implement electronic medical records systems, and say it will improve efficiency and quality. However, the HealthLeaders report also finds that those same leaders are uneasy about the cost, value, and functionality of their own EMR programs.

The ONC data released Thursday comes from surveys commissioned by ONC and carried out by the American Hospital Association and the National Center for Health Statistics, an agency of HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The AHA survey found that 81% of hospitals plan to achieve meaningful use of EHRs and take advantage of incentive payments.  About two-thirds of hospitals (65%) responded that they will enroll during Stage 1 of the Incentive Programs, in 2011-2012.

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