In 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, a part of the Recovery Act, created the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs to promote the adoption of EHRs in support of the ultimate goals of improving the quality of patient care and reducing health costs. Through this program, eligible hospitals and doctors earn incentives by demonstrating “meaningful use” of certified technology, which means that health care providers use EHRs in ways that improve care and lower costs. Examples of “meaningful use” include electronic prescribing of medications and ensuring patients have access to their digital records.
PROGRESS TO DATE:
- Robust Participation in the EHR Incentive Programs:
- Hospital Participation: More than 85 percent of eligible hospitals are participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, and more than 75 percent have received incentive payments for meaningfully using EHR technology as of March 2013.
- Physicians and other Health Care Provider Participation: More than 388,000 of the nation’s eligible professionals have registered to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, representing 73 percent of all providers eligible to participate. More than 230,000, or 44 percent of all eligible professionals, have received an EHR incentive payment for meaningfully using EHR technology as of March 2013.
- Assistance from Regional Extension Centers: HITECH funds established 62 Health Information Technology Regional Extension Centers (RECs) to offer technical assistance and guidance that is critical to accelerating the provider adoption and meaningful use of EHRs, particularly in rural areas and other underserved settings.
- RECs are providing assistance and support to more than 44 percent (130,000) of primary care providers and 48 percent (20,000) of Nurse Practitioners nationwide.
- More than 80 percent of all Federally Qualified Health Centers are enrolled with a REC.
- Effect on the Health IT Marketplace: Federal investment and standard setting have helped to create a robust market for eHealth IT products. As of March 2013, there are 941 vendors providing more than 1,700 unique certified EHR products.
- Rapid Adoption of Advanced Technology: Survey data shows that the HITECH Act has dramatically accelerated providers’ use of key health IT capabilities nationwide:
- E-Prescribing: Office-based physicians’ use of e-prescribing has increased from 0.8 percent in December 2006 to 53 percent through January 2013, and more than 94 percent of all pharmacies are now actively e-prescribing.
- Hospitals: between 2008 and 2012, the number of hospitals using EHR systems with certain advanced functionalities that go even beyond the requirements of Meaningful Use Stage 1 (including physician clinical notes and electronic imaging results) more than quadrupled from 9.4 percent to 44 percent.
- Doctors: Physician adoption of EHR systems with the same advanced functionalities more than doubled between 2008 and 2012, from 17 percent to 40 percent.
- Economic Impact:
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 50,000 health IT-related jobs have been created since HITECH was enacted.
- As of January 2013, community colleges have trained 17,049 professionals in health IT, and as of September 2012, universities had graduated over 820 post-graduate and masters-level health IT professionals. This is the result of four ONC-supported workforce development programs that are helping to train the new health IT workforce to meet the increased demand for these workers.
- As of February 2013, the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs have paid $12.6 billion in incentives to hospitals, doctors, and other health care professionals.