HHS continues to push their agenda to launch a demonstration project this year to promote adoption of health information technology in small and medium-sized physician practices, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said yesterday.
In a meeting with reporters, Leavitt said the department would be recruiting 1,200 practices to apply for the new demonstration project, which has been met with criticism from some industry experts. Some of these practices already have IT systems in place, but HHS will provide some support for those practices starting from scratch, Leavitt said.
Participating practices could receive higher Medicare payments for adopting certified electronic health records, a measure HHS estimates could reduce errors and improve care for more than 3 million Americans.
In addition, HHS in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission will continue to award grants to foster use of health IT and telemedicine in rural areas, Leavitt said.
On other healthcare issues, Leavitt cited fixing Medicare's physician payment formula, driving healthcare innovation in local communities, and preserving the Medicare Advantage program as his top priorities in 2008.
Specifically, HHS in 2008 will be traveling to 40 different cities in three months to meet with "Chartered Value Exchanges," community-based organizations that have taken the initiative to convene health plans, providers and consumers to advance the concept of "value-driven" care, that incorporates health IT and measuring price information and quality of care.