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EHR incentive payments doubled in last three months of 2011


By Joseph Conn
Posted: January 18, 2012 - 12:15 pm ET
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Total payments to hospitals through the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health-record system incentive programs more than doubled from October through December to more than $1.9 billion, according to the CMS' latest monthly report on payment and registration support.

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Combined payments to physicians and other so-called eligible professionals jumped 99% over the same period to nearly $570.4 million.

There were 176,049 active registrants in the programs by the end of December, up 27% since October, according to the CMS' data. Among them, 98% were eligible professionals; 2% were hospitals. About 75% of eligible professionals receiving payments—10,530 of them—are physicians, with nurse practitioners, dentists, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants accounting for the rest, according to the CMS.

To put those numbers in context, there are 565,024 office-based physicians in the U.S., according to the American Medical Association, and 5,754 hospitals, according to the American Hospital Association.

Final participation numbers for the two federal information technology incentive programs for their first year of operation won't be available until later this year, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, said last week. Although the initial qualification period for hospitals ended with the federal fiscal year on Sept. 1, 2011, the qualification period for eligible professionals didn't end until Dec. 31, and they have 60 days beyond that to compile their data and submit applications for payment.


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