Department of Public Welfare's Medical Assistance Electronic Health Record Incentive Program Improves Care

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Public Welfare Gary D. Alexander today announced that the department's Medical Assistance Electronic Health Record Incentive Program helped more than 500,000 Medical Assistance recipients receive safer, more efficient care in its first year of operation.

"The transition from paper medical records to electronic records is a proven way to boost the health and safety of Medical Assistance patients," said Alexander. "Our goal is to build on the electronic records infrastructure in Medical Assistance provider offices and hospitals and work toward true electronic communication."

The program provides incentive payments to eligible medical professionals and hospitals as they implement technology related to electronic health records. Eligible providers can receive funding from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assist with the purchase or upgrade of an electronic health records system.

Pennsylvania was one of the first states to implement its Medical Assistance Incentive Program and was also instrumental in developing the Medical Assistance Provider Registration system used by 12 other states to operate their Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs. 

Transitioning a patient's paper records into electronic records makes data more easily accessible to the health care workers who treat them. Rather than searching for, or potentially misplacing paper records, electronic records can be obtained through a provider's computer system. Additionally, authorized professionals will be able to provide a more timely diagnosis and treatment through the instant access electronic health records provide. 

The department has approved more than $130 million in federally funded incentive payments to more than 3,000 professionals and 90 hospitals. Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation in the amount of incentive payments disbursed to Medical Assistance providers. The department estimates that more than 500,000 Medical Assistance recipients are receiving health care in practices and hospitals that have electronic health record systems.

In its second year, the program will continue to provide incentive payments to eligible medical professionals and hospitals but providers will need to be able to attest to federal meaningful-use requirements for second-year payments.

The department is encouraging providers that have not yet received an Electronic Health Record Incentive Program payment to register with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and with the Department of Public Welfare to begin receiving payments.

Medical Assistance providers can register for the incentive program by visiting www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/ or learn more about Pennsylvania's initiative by visiting www.pamahealthit.org.

For more information about the Department of Public Welfare, visit the department online at www.dpw.state.pa.us.To report suspected welfare fraud, call 1-800-932-0582.

Media contacts: Anne Bale or Donna Morgan, 717-425-7606

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare



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