CMS to underwrite some physicians’ IT investments

CMS to underwrite some physicians’ IT investments

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will help fund investments for some small physician offices in order to bolster adoption of health care IT. A provision of the new Medicare law lets CMS offset the cost of IT investments by small physician practices, said CMS administrator Dr. Mark McClellan Friday at the first Health IT Summit in Washington.

As an incentive, doctors will receive more payments when they can prove patient safety and quality of care have improved in their practices. CMS is targeting small physician practices because they have resisted adopting health care IT, such as systems for electronic prescriptions and health records, and computerized physician order entry. The government believes use of IT systems will improve patient care and safety and reduce costs.

Performance metrics should be built into the overall goals for delivering care. “Giving free health care IT but not changing any of the other incentives and the environment in which they practice may not be enough,” McClellan said

CMS is implementing the plan next year in four states, involving 4,000 physicians. “We’re making a long-term commitment to providing health care IT,” he said.

CMS also began this month to pay 0.4 percent more than the usual Medicare payment to hospitals that have improved their patient care based on certain measurements, including the use of health care IT. McClellan said 99 percent of hospitals now report their quality-of-care performance.

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