HHS picks 12 communities for EHR incentive project
HHS aims to speed U.S. EHR adoption with demonstration project. Source: New York Times  
HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt has named 12 communities to participate in a U.S. Medicare demonstration project that will provide incentive payments to physicians for using a certified EHR system to improve the quality of patient care.

Over the five-year demonstration project, financial incentives will be provided to as many as 1,200 primary care physician practices in the selected communities that use certified EHRs to improve quality as measured by their performance on specific clinical quality measures. In addition to the incentive payments, bonus payments may be awarded based on a standardized survey measuring the number of EHR functionalities a physician group has incorporated into its practice. Total payments under the demonstration for all five years may be up to $58,000 per physician or $290,000 per practice, according to Leavitt.

“The use of EHRs, and of health IT as a whole, has the ability to transform the way healthcare is delivered in our nation,” Secretary Leavitt said. “We believe that EHRs can help physicians deliver better, more efficient care for their patients, in part by reducing medical errors. This project is designed to demonstrate these benefits and help increase the use of this technology in practices where adoption has been the slowest – at the individual physician and small practice level.”

The communities selected to work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the EHR demonstration project range from county- and state- level to multi-state collaborations, including:
  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Jacksonville, Fla. (multi-county)
  • Georgia
  • Maine
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland/Washington, DC
  • Oklahoma
  • Pittsburgh, Pa. (multi-county)
  • South Dakota (multi-state)
  • Virginia
  • Madison, Wis. (multi-county)
The project will be implemented in two phases. CMS will begin working with partners in four Phase I communities over the coming months to develop site-specific recruitment strategies, and recruitment of physician practices will start in the fall. For Phase II sites, the activities will begin in 2009.