The final meaningful use rule has many changes and clarifications in its 864 pages, testimony to the degree to which federal officials listened to stakeholders following publication of the proposed rule. But one major component--the amount of available incentive money--remains the same.

Physicians still can get up to $44,000 from Medicare and few thousand more if they practice in underserved areas, or up to $63,750 from Medicaid. Hospitals still are looking at millions of dollars in incentives, an average of $6 million (two thirds from Medicare, one-third from Medicaid) for a typical hospital with a couple hundred beds. "We've really got an amazing opportunity here," says Erica Drazen, managing partner of Computer Sciences Corp., a Falls Church, Va.-based consultancy.

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