More than $400 million awarded under MU incentive program, says CMS

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To date, more than $400 million has been awarded to healthcare providers as part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) meaningful use incentive program to encourage healthcare providers to implement medical informatics technology, according to Healthcare IT News.

Robert Tagalicod, director for the Office of E-Health Standards and Services, presented the Health IT Policy Committee with data from stage one of the meaningful use incentive program in Washington, DC, on August 3. According to Tagalicod, maintaining patient lists, incorporation of laboratory test results and drug formularies were the most popular uses of clinical informatics by healthcare providers that had attested in stage one. Care record summaries and medical reconciliation were the two least popular uses.

Tagalicod told the committee that “It would be too early to draw conclusions yet, but we will be working closely with the policy committee as well as ONC to understand what these data [sets] say to us and how we should interpret them so we can translate them into something more programmatic,” as quoted by the news outlet.

More than 2,300 eligible professionals have attested to meaningful use under stage one, and all of the 100 hospitals that had registered for the incentive program had attested successfully. The data indicated that 77 percent of healthcare providers that attested had successfully utilized pharmacy informatics for e-prescribing of patient medications. More than 90 percent had used electronic health records (EHR’s) to record patient vital signs, allergies, present medications and smoking status.

The number of Medicare healthcare providers that received meaningful use incentive payments increased from 329 in June to 566 in July. Internal medicine and family practice were the top two areas of practice for hospitals and eligible professionals that were eligible for payments as part of the scheme, according to the news outlet.