It's been a breathtakingly busy year in health information technology, with a slew of federal programs firing on all cylinders, but the healthcare industry will have to drive even faster to meet a goal first set by President George W. Bush in 2004 and reiterated by President Barack Obama in 2009, that most Americans should have access to an electronic health record by 2014.
Most of the impetus came from a handful of programs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, including workforce development, a national health IT extension service and—most significantly, in terms of dollars and organizations impacted—EHR incentive payment programs, administered by the CMS under Medicare and Medicaid.
Through November, according to data from the CMS and HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the number of hospitals and eligible professionals (roughly 83% of whom are physicians) that have been paid since the federal EHR incentive payment programs began doling out cash in early 2011 has skyrocketed.
Comparing last year with this year, the total payments have nearly quadrupled, from $2.5 billion to $9.25 billion; the number of hospitals paid has more than doubled, from 1,658 hospitals to 3,750; and the ranks of eligible professionals with incentive payment has swelled from 29,344 to 173,350, according to the CMS and ONC. Even so, while the 2012 numbers for EHR incentive recipients represent about three out of four eligible hospitals, they account for only one in three eligible professionals, according to CMS data.