Health Care Providers, Insurers Lay Out Plans To Boost EHR Use

On Thursday, insurers, health care providers and professional organizations that manage physicians announced a series of private-sector initiatives promoting wider use of electronic health records, CQ HealthBeat reports.

The meeting took place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and was organized by the journal Health Affairs and the Health Industry Forum at Brandeis University.

The initiatives come nearly a month after federal officials released a final rule on how health care providers can demonstrate "meaningful use" of EHRs to qualify for incentive payments from the 2009 economic stimulus package (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 8/5).

Efforts From Specific Groups

Four large health insurance companies—Aetna, Highmark BlueCross BlueShield, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint—said they will align their pay-for-performance criteria with meaningful use rules (Goedert, Health Data Management, 8/5).

Insurers said that, for the time being, they are committed to offering incentives for EHR adoption, rather than penalizing physicians or hospitals for not adopting health IT (CQ HealthBeat, 8/5).

The American Board of Medical Specialties—a not-for-profit physician accrediting organization—said it will use meaningful use criteria in its certification program (Lubell, Modern Healthcare, 8/5).

Other initiatives discussed at the forum include:

  • Zero-interest financing and other financial incentives for physician groups to purchase EHR systems;
  • Training and education to implement the EHRs;
  • Using premium designations to recognize health care providers who have adopted EHRs; and
  • An eventual requirement that providers shift to paperless records in order to maintain certification and stay in insurance networks (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/5).

National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal said that private companies should act in concert with the federal government in the effort to encourage wider use of health IT (CQ HealthBeat, 8/5).

Health Affairs Postings

The Health Affairs Blog contains a post from Blumenthal and CMS Administrator Donald Berwick on the push to adopt EHRs, as well as from groups that took part in the forum. Headlines and links appear below.

  • "Adoption and Meaningful Use of EHRs—The Journey Begins" (Blumenthal/Berwick, Health Affairs Blog, 8/5).
  • "American Board of Medical Specialties: Aligning Maintenance of Certification and Meaningful Use" (Weiss/Horowitz, Health Affairs Blog, 8/5).
  • "Christiana Care: A Leadership Moment for Hospitals and Physicians" (Laskowski, Health Affairs Blog, 8/5).
  • "Federation of State Medical Boards: Maintenance of Licensure and Health IT" (Chaudhry, Health Affairs Blog, 8/5).
  • "Highmark: Using EHRs To Drive Quality Improvement" (Fischer, Health Affairs Blog, 8/4).
  • "Partners HealthCare Applauds EHR Meaningful Use Regs" (Gottlieb/Lee, Health Affairs Blog, 7/23).
  • "ThedaCare: Meaningful Use and Continuous Improvement" (Toussaint, Health Affairs Blog, 8/5).
  • "Through a Patient's Eyes: The Value of EHRs" (Bloedow, Health Affairs Blog, 8/5).
  • "WellPoint: Supporting Meaningful Use Through Incentive Alignment and Hospital Financing" (Nussbaum/Kennedy, Health Affairs Blog, 8/5).