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HHS Deputy Secretary Invites Toledo Community to Apply for an Innovative Electronic Health Record Demonstration Project
Date:3/18/2008

TOLEDO, Ohio, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a meeting today, HHS Deputy Secretary Tevi Troy encouraged community leaders to join together and apply for a new Medicare demonstration project that provides incentive payments for physicians' use of certified electronic health records to improve patient care. The project, which will be open to small- and medium-sized primary care physician practices, is expected to reduce medical errors and improve the quality of care for an estimated 3.6 million Americans.

"Communities like Toledo have a tremendous opportunity to help transform health care delivery starting at the local level," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "Broad adoption of interoperable electronic health records has the potential not only to improve the quality of care provided, but also to change the way medicine is practiced and delivered. By implementing this demonstration project in a dozen health markets across the country, we'll help move this nation toward a system that delivers better quality health care at lower cost for more Americans."

Over a five-year period, financial incentives will be provided to as many as 1,200 primary care physician practices that use certified electronic health records (EHR) to improve quality as measured by their performance on specific clinical quality measures. In addition to the incentive payments, bonus payments may be awarded based on a standardized survey measuring the number of EHR functionalities a physician practice has incorporated. Total payments under the demonstration may be up to $58,000 per physician or $290,000 per practice.

"The development of a EHR is one of the most powerful tools we have as physicians to improve the delivery and safety of health care," said Ronald A. McGinnis, MD, Medical Director, University of Toledo Medical Center. "The implementation of an EHR project which engages all the members of our community has the potential to make Northwest Ohio a national leader in patient safety."

Secretary Leavitt and other senior HHS officials are meeting directly with patients, providers, health plans, and local business leaders in communities across America to discuss this new demonstration project.

"We are looking for communities that have a strong base of primary care physicians and are willing to assist us in educating and recruiting local physician practices for the demonstration," said Kerry Weems, Acting Administrator of HHS' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). "By providing financial incentives for the use of EHRs to improve the quality of care, we hope to improve health care quality throughout the entire community."

The application period is open now through early May for communities interested in becoming one of the demonstration program's 12 sites. CMS will focus on locations where the demonstration may enhance existing or planned private sector projects that support the adoption and use of health information technology and quality reporting initiatives. Eligible communities will include those that:

-- Demonstrate active community collaboration with a broad group of stakeholders, including providers and medical professional groups, consumers, health plans, and employers;

-- Show private-sector support, with likely probability that similar programs will be implemented among employers or health plans in the region;

-- Are geographically large enough to recruit a sufficient number of small- to medium-sized primary-care physician practices, of which 100 will be eligible for incentives and 100 will be control sites; and

-- Are not already part of an existing CMS demonstration similar to the EHR project.

CMS will announce the 12 communities selected for the demonstration project in June 2008. Once communities have been selected, CMS will begin working with the communities to recruit physician practices for participation in the demonstration. After selection in June, four of the communities will begin implementing the demonstration, with the remainder beginning in 2009.

The EHR demonstration project is a major step toward the President's goal of most Americans having access to a secure, interoperable electronic health record by 2014.

For more information about the EHR demonstration project, visit http://www.cms.hhs.gov/DemoProjectsEvalRpts/downloads/2008_Electronic_Healt h_Records_Demonstration.pdf.

This initiative is also part of HHS' bold vision for health care reform built on the four cornerstones of value-driven health care. These include: adopting interoperable health information technology; measuring and publishing quality information to enable consumers to make better decisions about their providers and treatment options; measuring and publishing price information to give consumers information they need to make better decisions on purchasing health care; and promoting incentives for high-quality, efficient delivery of care.

To learn more about Connecting to Better Health Care, please visit http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/connecthealthcare.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.


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SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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