After opening its doors to register doctors and hospitals for the first week of meaningful use electronic health records (EHR) incentives, Louisiana state HIT coordinator Zachary Jiwa reported that 50 providers registered for funds. Of the total, 46 were doctors, and four were hospitals.
The state also laid claim — and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) verified it with Jiwa and his colleagues — to the third Medicaid incentive check overall in the country, and the first to a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). The state issued the check last Friday; an official announcement will be forthcoming today. As of Tuesday, the state had issued a total of $63,000 in EHR incentives, spread across two eligible providers and the FQHC.
“We wanted to be ready, we wanted to be proactive so that we weren’t falling behind,” Jiwa said. “Ultimately, the EHR incentive program is really driving the type of behavior we want to see in Louisiana — we want technology adoption, but not just for technology’s sake but so that we can get down improving quality and efficiency and safety of care. Technology — and more specifically, data sharing — ultimately drives that outcome.”
That was an important milestone, said director of media and communications Lisa Faust, because the state’s healthcare providers serve primarily rural areas; Louisiana Medicaid has put much effort into promoting EHR incentives to physicians and hospitals including newspaper ad campaigns and even electronic postcards that target eligible providers. The state’s regional extension center’s target is to bring 1,042 doctors to meaningful use; the state estimates that about 5,000 of Louisiana’s roughly 17,000 physicians and dentists would qualify for either Medicare or Medicaid EHR incentives.
“We’ve been very aggressive in trying to get the word out and letting people know it’s available,” Faust said.