Oakland, CA – July 27, 2012 –This week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that health care providers who partnered with a REC were more than twice as likely to receive an incentive payment under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. This data supports the success that CalHIPSO, the country’s largest regional extension center, is seeing through its work in California.

The GAO’s report, Electronic Health Records: Number and Characteristics of Providers Awarded Medicare Incentive Payments for 2011, mined 2011 data from a variety of government sources. It offered insights into those providers and hospitals that are making current progress, but could also provide an early indication of those who may be vulnerable to payment reductions in later years of the program.

 “The GAO’s findings confirm what providers around the state have been telling us – in working with RECs clinicians can decrease the barriers to adopting and implementing EHRs,” said Speranza Avram, CalHIPSO CEO “We provide unbiased support in translating complex health information technology issues into practical solutions that fit a provider’s unique circumstances.”

During the first year, 2,802 hospitals and 141,649 professionals registered for the Medicare incentive program, a required step to receive incentive payments. In 2011, 761 hospitals and 56,585 health care professionals nationwide were awarded Medicare EHR incentive payments for their efforts to use electronic health records to meaningfully improve patient health.

The GAO also analyzed program participation among hospitals, including acute care and critical access hospitals with a variety of ownership type, size and location. Results indicated that:

  • Critical access hospitals were less than half as likely to earn incentives as acute care hospitals
  • Hospitals in the top third of size (measured by number of beds) were 2.4 times more likely than hospitals in the bottom third to earn an incentive payment.
  • Nonprofit and for-profit hospitals were 1.1 and 1.5 times more likely than government-owned hospitals, respectively, to receive an incentive payment.
  • Only one in ten (12.2 percent) of eligible rural hospitals were awarded Medicare EHR incentive payments.

The full GAO report can be found at: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-778R.

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