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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provide incentive payments to eligible providers (EP) who give care to Medicaid and Medicare patients and who adopt electronic health records (EHR) systems in their practices and health care organizations or facilities. The EHRs, however, must meet certain standards set forth by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Care (HITECH) Act under the law enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). These standards include:
As of 2011, eligible providers (EP) can receive up to $44,000 over the course of five years for incentive payments if they demonstrate upgrades to existing EHR systems, EHR system implementations or plans for implementation. In order to receive the maximum amount of incentive payments, EHR systems should be developed sooner rather than later. Incentive payments can be used to hire an outside vendor for EHR implementation, or new or additional in-house IT staff. Public universities and community colleges are also granted incentive payments in order to educate new IT staff through the Program Assistance for University-Based Training (UBT).
The deadline for EHR implementation is 2015, but many believe this deadline will need to be extended.