Four in five office-based docs could qualify for EHR incentives

A review of federal survey data in this month's Health Affairs shows that more than four in five (83 percent) office-based physicians could qualify for new federal incentive payments--through Medicare, Medicaid, or both--to encourage the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs).

"The incentives are not the only factor that are going to determine adoption or meaningful use, but they are certainly a good first step toward greater interconnection and greater operability," said Brian Bruen, one of the study's authors, at a meeting this week in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Health Affairs.

"The incentives really should spur broader adoption and use of electronic records, but there are some gaps," said Bruen, a research scientist at George Washington University.

In particular, the eligibility for the incentives will probably vary by specialty: 91 percent of physicians working in general or family practice or internal medicine are anticipated to qualify for incentives, but fewer than two-thirds of pediatricians, obstetrician‑gynecologists, and psychiatrists may qualify.

Also, eligibility is expected to vary by factors such as size and type of practice. For instance, physicians in physician-owned and solo practices may be somewhat less likely to qualify than those in physician-owned group practices, and physicians in practices owned by a health maintenance organization may be the least likely to be eligible for incentives.

The researchers also anticipated that physicians who practiced in the Midwest would be more likely to qualify for incentives, and those who practiced in the west would be less likely, in comparison with physicians in other regions of the country.

For more details:
- see the Health Affairs journal abstract