Hospitals eligible for incentive payments for meaningful use of electronic health records are more likely than ineligible hospitals to have at least a basic EHR system, meet Stage 1 criteria for meaningful use and exchange health information electronically, according to a study reported today in Health Affairs. Under the HITECH Act of 2009, acute-care and critical access hospitals are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments; cancer and children’s hospitals are eligible for Medicaid incentive payments; and rehabilitation, long-term care and psychiatric hospitals are ineligible for both types of incentive payments. Although ineligible hospitals increased their use of at least a basic EHR system between 2009 and 2013, the gap in EHR adoption between eligible and ineligible hospitals is growing and could “undermine the ability to achieve policy goals of improved quality, lower costs and a more efficient health care system,” the authors said. To address this gap, they said the federal government could expand eligibility for incentive payments to ineligible hospitals, among other actions.

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