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Regional Extension Centers (Finally) Help Docs Get Incentives

Posted on August 3, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

For a while there, it seemed like the RECs didn’t have their act together, particularly when it came to reaching out to and closing the deal with doctors. Getting the right person on the phone wasn’t that easy, in fact. Well, times change. A new report suggests that the RECs have gotten on top of things.

The new study, which was issued by the General Accounting Office, concludes that healthcare providers who partnered with a REC — a step which involves a modest fee — were more than twice as likely to get an incentive payment under the Medicare incentive program.  The data in the report comes from 2011, and drew on varied government sources.

On a related note, the GAO reported that 2,802 hospitals and 141,649 professionals registered for the Medicare incentive program last year. Of that group 761 hospitals and 56,585 professionals got incentive payments through Medicare.

The agency also took a look at which types of hospital were more likely to get the Medicare incentive, and got some unsurprising results (summary courtesy of EMR Daily News):

Critical access hospitals were less than half as likely to earn incentives as acute care hospitals.

Hospitals in the top third of size (measured by number of beds) were 2.4 times more likely than hospitals in the bottom third to earn an incentive payment.

Nonprofit and for-profit hospitals were 1.1 and 1.5 times more likely than government-owned hospitals, respectively, to receive an incentive payment.

Only one in ten (12.2 percent) of eligible rural hospitals were awarded Medicare EHR incentive payments.

Taken as a whole, I  see this as a “good news/bad news” situation. One the one hand we have the welcome news that the REC program is actually delivering on its promise, something I imagine we’re all glad to see.

On the other, the critical access/rural hospital numbers are simply unacceptable. There’s no reason that people in these hospitals would be any less capable of meeting Meaningful Use standards, but they lack the staff and capital needed to push their efforts along. Ultimately, this could lead to a major disparity in care for Americans living in remote areas.

I’m not sure what the answer is here — other than perhaps a FAT load of grants for such hospitals helping them with MU efforts — but something has to be done.  I’m pretty sure that “the rich hospitals get richer” wasn’t HHS’s intent for MU.

Critical Access Hospital EMR & EHR Market Series on Hospital EMR and EHR

Posted on October 11, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

For those of you that work in the Hospital EMR and EHR market or have an interest in hospital healthcare IT, you should go over right now and make sure you’re subscribed to our sister site: Hospital EMR and EHR. The content that’s being created on that site is phenomenal.

For example, Chris O’Neal from KATALUS Advisors just finished a series of posts covering the Critical Access Hospital EMR & EHR market. Here are the posts from the series:
How Big is the Health IT Market for Critical Access Hospitals?
Pressures on Critical Access Hospitals – IT Budgets, Competition and IT Talent Retention
What Are the Health IT Trends Working in Favor of Small Hospitals?
Which Health IT and EHR Vendors Should Critical Access Hospitals Consider?

I’ve got another post titled The Argument for Meditech on the way as well. I’ve really enjoyed working with Chris and KATALUS Advisors on these posts and I believe we’ll have even more great Hospital EMR and EHR content from them in the future.

Plus, many of you probably remember many of the great posts here on EMR and EHR by Katherine Rourke. She has such a love for hospitals, that Katherine’s now posting on Hospital EMR & EHR. You can find all of her posts here.