Doc’s Plea: Keep Tabs on Incentive Program

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The federal government’s meaningful use incentives are achievable, but will require significant effort by physicians to attain, says the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Testifying this week before the House Commerce Subcommittee on Health about the meaningful use EHR incentive program, AAFP President-elect Roland Goertz, M.D., urged lawmakers to keep close tabs on how well the program is managed. 

“Given the past efforts of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in administrating incentive programs, such as the Physicians Quality Reporting Initiative, many physicians are not reassured that they will receive the bonus if they attempt to participate in the program,” Goertz said. “We ask your committee to help make sure that CMS delivers on the execution of this program. If the first rounds of reporting and incentives do not go smoothly, many physicians will turn away from this program.”

Goertz cited the lack of capital and resources to deploy an EHR as key roadblocks faced by the small group practices that comprise much of the Academy’s membership. “The establishment of the regional health information technology extension center program will be critical for success by these practices,” Goertz testified. “We are hopeful that the regional extension centers will be able to provide such assistance, but we are concerned about their capacities to provide these critical services.”

Goertz also asked the committee to consider postponement of the forthcoming ICD-10 coding and nomenclature system, which CMS has mandated take effect in 2013. “Practices are at their maximum capacities for change,” he noted. 

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