More than 255,000 EPs have earned EHR incentive payments; CMS updates FAQs;

News From Around the Web

> More than 255,000 eligible professionals have earned electronic health record incentive payments, according to figures released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services through March of this year. Out of 5,011 total eligible hospitals, 3,858 (77 percent) have been paid a total of roughly $8.5 billion in EHR incentive money under Medicare, Medicaid or both. Update

 > Meaningful Use is the area of health IT that will provide the greatest opportunity for "significant" improvements in the next 12 months, according to a survey of health IT senior managers by Stoltenberg Consulting. Other health IT initiatives that will see significant improvement include health information exchange, clinical integration and mobile health. Some of the challenges of meeting Meaningful Use include confusion about the requirements, competing IT projects and lack of resources. Announcement

> CMS has updated two answers to frequently asked questions about the Meaningful Use Incentive Program. The FAQs pertain to information on how incentive payments will be affected by sequestration and how to successfully attest after a provider has changed vendors. Website

> The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has released new guidance for consumers about EHRs. The guidance, available in eight languages, covers the use of EHRs by providers, the benefits of electronic records and the ways that providers keep the information secure. Website

Health Finance News 

> A new study by Brown University researchers strongly suggests that the actual cost of hospital emergency department services may be as much as triple traditional estimates. The findings could put a spotlight on ERs, which are a significant source of income and inpatient admissions for hospitals. Article

> A new survey by global consulting giant KPMG concludes that healthcare executives are bullish about momentum building around mergers and acquisitions. According to KPMG, 60 percent of the healthcare executives it recently polled said they plan to make more deals in 2013 than in 2012. Many of the deals are expected to be mid-market sized or smaller (generally $250 million or less), with easy financing and fewer obstacles than in larger transactions among the leading drivers, according to the poll. Article 

Provider News

> For the first time in several years, physician income is up in most specialties, but doctors' attitudes about practicing medicine aren't necessarily on the upswing, according to a new physician compensation report from Medscape Today. For instance, for the third year, orthopedic surgeons earned the most, with a mean income of $405,000. They credit a turnaround in the economy triggering more elective surgeries with their 27 percent pay increase over last year. But despite their booming businesses, these specialists were tied with dermatologists as the least likely to say they'd choose medicine as a career again, at 37 percent. Article

> The toll patients' financial constraints put on practices as of late has been a big one. In fact, roughly 80 million people--43 percent of America's working-age adults--did not go to the doctor or seek other medical services because of cost, according to the Commonwealth Fund's 2012 biennial health insurance survey. Article

And Finally... What's the big deal? He's been driving for four years now. Article