Doug Fridsma, M.D., the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's Chief Science Officer and Director of the Office of Science and Technology, told a HIMSS14 audience last week that long-term care and behavioral health providers--both of whom are not eligible for the EHR meaningful use incentive programs--are important stakeholders for the interoperable exchange of electronic health information. "We need to expand our portfolio to new use cases that brings them into the community for us to be able to exchange [information] with them," declared Fridsma.

The 2009 HITECH Act provided financial incentives and technical assistance to help eligible providers use certified technology to become meaningful users of EHR. Even though almost a third of Medicare patients discharged from acute-care hospitals must receive treatment from post-acute-care providers, Congress did not include long-term care and behavioral health facilities in the incentive program. In particular patients who receive long-term and post-acute services typically have co-occurring health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

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