BATON ROUGE—The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed that the Louisiana Department of Health Hospitals made the first Meaningful Use payment in the nation for the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program.
Through the Louisiana Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, which began Jan. 3, 2011, eligible Medicaid providers or hospitals can receive payments for demonstrating they have adopted, implemented or upgraded EHR in their practices. As of March 30, 2012, 74 hospitals and 1,030 medical professionals statewide have received a total of $105.9 million in federal financial incentive payments, ranking Louisiana first in the nation for Medicaid EHR incentive payments per capita and third overall.
Winn Community Health Center, which was the first federally qualified health center (FQHC) in the nation to receive an incentive payment during the first phase of EHR Incentive Program implementation, was also the first recipient of the Meaningful Use incentive.
"We’ve made adoption of health information technology a priority in Louisiana, and our efforts are paying off,” said DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "I’m proud of our position as a national leader, and I commend Winn Community Health Center and the other providers across the state who have demonstrated a commitment to improving patient outcomes through the use of technology.”
Louisiana Medicaid received federal funding for this program through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health, or HITECH, Act, which established programs under Medicare and Medicaid encouraging health care providers to adopt and effectively use EHR and health information technology.
Electronic health records have been proven to better coordinate patients' care, reduce administrative burdens for providers, curb medical errors and aid in the timely, secure exchange of information.
“This is a significant achievement for Winn Community Health Center,” said Deano Thornton, chief executive office. “The center’s implementation and meaningful use of electronic health records enables us to improve health care quality, efficiency and patient safety for the citizens of Winn Parish. I’m also proud of our staff for their dedication and coordinated efforts to enhance our ability to provide exceptional health care services to those we serve.”
The Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA), the statewide trade Association of the FQHCs, has partnered with the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum Regional Extension Center to help its members enroll in the program and achieve meaningful use. The Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum administers the regional extension center (REC) and health information exchange (HIE) for the state. REC services include technical assistance, guidance and information to support and accelerate providers’ efforts as they adopt and meaningfully use electronic health records (EHRs).
“The Louisiana Primary Care Association is excited and encouraged that Winn Community Health Center has successfully reached this significant Meaningful Use milestone,” said LPCA Executive Director, Jonathan Chapman. “Since being the first FQHC in the nation to receive the initial Medicaid electronic medical record incentive payment, Winn CHC continues to establish great expectations for all health care providers. This achievement reflects the efforts made by all of the state's FQHCs as they strive to transform their practices to improve the health and overall quality of life for Louisiana's residents.”
Through the program, eligible providers receive an initial payment for adopting electronic health records, and can receive continued payments for five more years if they demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology in ways that can be measured significantly in both quality and in quantity. Providers can earn more than $60,000 throughout a six-year participation period. Eligible providers include physicians, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, dentists and physician assistants practicing in FQHC or rural health clinics led by a physician assistant.
“We congratulate Mr. Thornton, his team and providers on the attestation achievement,” noted Forum Executive Director Cindy Munn. “Winn Community Health Center is to be commended for making Meaningful Use a priority and steadily moving ahead to meet that goal. This milestone is key to improving the quality and efficiency of health care for the people they serve. In addition, Winn Community Health Center is the first FQHC in the state to enroll with the HIE, which is the next step in building Louisiana’s health care infrastructure,” she added.
Interested participants should visit DHH's EHR Incentive Payment Program page at www.dhh.louisiana.gov/EHR, call 225-342-4810, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how they can enroll for the program and receive payments.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's blog at www.myhealthla.org, Twitter at http://twitter.com/La_Health_Dept and search for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on Facebook.