Health IT Adoption Doubles in Two Years, Creates 50,000 Jobs

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A report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says adoption of health information technology by doctors has doubled in two years and created more than 50,000 jobs. 
The report largely credits the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the Recovery Act of 2009. As part of the announcement, HHS officials say the government will make it easier for doctors to receive incentive payments for converting their paper records to computers. “When doctors and hospitals use health IT, patients get better care and we save money,” says HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, according to a press release. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the percentage of physicians with basic electronic health records doubled from 17 percent to 34 percent over the past two years. The CDC data also found 52 percent of office-based U.S. physicians intend to take advantage of the government’s incentive program. Doctors are eligible for $44,000 in payments through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and $63,750 under the Medicaid Medicare EHR Incentive Program. But by 2015, those incentives turn into penalties. In attempt to make it easier for doctors to adopt health IT, HHS also said today it intends to delay implementation of Stage 2 requirements from 2013 to 2014. The delay actually has the effect of encouraging faster adoption of existing requirements. Physicians who act quickly can still qualify for payments in 2011 and 2012, the agency stated in a press release. A new survey of 216 radiologists suggests there’s still a great deal of concern over the lack of clarity and decreased efficiency as a result of adopting the federal standards. The survey conducted RSNA together with the research firm KLAS found 40 percent of of the radiologists surveyed had concerns. However, the radiologists were still more likely than the physicians the CDC studied to say that they planned to take advantage of the federal incentives. In the RSNA/KLAS survey, about 60 percent said they plan to qualify for federal incentives. “These numbers should be a wakeup call for the radiology industry,” says Emily Crane, KLAS research director and author of the report, according to a press release. “Most radiologists are Eligible Providers--meaning that if they meet the criteria by the deadline, they are eligible for some or all of the $44,000 in incentives.”