On April 7, 2009 CMS announced that, as a result of the incentive provisions for physicians to encourage the adoption of health information technology in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”), CMS will change its plans for implementing the electronic health records (“HER”) Demonstration. CMS will continue implementation of Phase I of the EHR Demonstration program on schedule. CMS will continue working with Phase I community partners and practices, including local kick off meetings for more than 400 selected practices in May, 2009. The demonstration will begin as planned on June 1, 2009 and continue through May 21, 2014. However, CMS has decided to discontinue Phase II of the EHR demonstration, which originally was planned to begin operations in mid-2010.
The EHR demonstration initiative aims to reward delivery of high-quality care supported by the adoption and use of electronic health records in physician practices. This initiative expands upon the foundation created by the Medicare Care Management Performance (“MCMP”) Demonstration. The goal of the demonstration is to foster the implementation and adoption of EHRs and health information technology (“HIT”) more broadly as effective vehicles to improve the quality of care provided and to transform the way medicine is practiced and delivered.
As part of the EHR demonstration, all participating primary care physician practices will be required to have a Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (“CCHIT”)-certified EHR by the end of the second year. (CCHIT is the recognized certification authority for EHRs and their networks.) Physician practices must, as part of the demonstration, utilize the EHR to perform specific minimum core functionalities that can positively impact patient care processes, (e.g., clinical documentation, ordering of lab tests, recording lab tests, and recording of prescriptions). The core incentive payment is based on performance on the quality measures, with an enhanced bonus based on the degree of HIT functionality used to manage care.
On June 10, 2008 CMS announced its selection of 12 community partners in defined sites to help CMS implement the EHR demonstration. The approved community partners in each site represent diverse groups of organizations including varied HIT stakeholder collaborations, medical societies, primary care professional organizations and health departments. Phase I includes the following 4 sites: Louisiana, Southwest Pennsylvania, South Dakota (and some counties in bordering states), and Maryland and the District of Columbia. Recruitment of physician practices in the four Phase I sites was initiated on September 2, 2008, and the enrollment period closed on November 26, 2008. Over 800 eligible applications were received from interested practices in the four Phase I sites.
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