Orlando Sentinel, April 4, 2011
When Congress passed the stimulus package in 2009, the law provided $19 billion to help doctors invest in computerized medical systems. In addition, the government set aside funding for regional extension centers around the country. Those centers are designed to function much like agricultural extension centers, offering education, outreach and technical assistance to help doctors make the leap to electronic medical records. For doctors, there's real incentive to sign up. Eligible health-care professionals will receive about $44,000 per doctor in federal incentives, if they meet certain criteria, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. At UCF's regional extension center, director Karen van Caulil and her team have a grant to provide technical assistance to 1,400 primary-care providers with fewer than 10 doctors in their practice. Providers eligible for assistance include family-medicine physicians, pediatricians and doctors specializing in internal medicine or obstetrics and gynecology.