The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an Oct. 24 report on the number and characteristics of providers that were awarded Medicare electronic health record (EHR) incentive payments for 2011–12. The Medicare EHR Incentive Program provides payments to eligible hospitals and professionals to encourage them to adopt, implement, upgrade, and use EHR technology to improve patient care. Eligible hospitals include those that are paid under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System and critical access hospitals.
GAO found that 2,291 hospitals, or 48 percent of those eligible for the program, were awarded a total of $3.5 billion in Medicare EHR incentive payments for 2012. This is an increase from 2011, when 777 hospitals, or 16 percent of those eligible, were awarded payments. The report also found that nearly three-quarters of the hospitals that were awarded a Medicare EHR incentive payment for 2012 were new to the program, meaning they did not receive a payment for 2011. The report found that 61 percent of hospitals that received an incentive payment for 2012 were in urban areas and 60 percent of hospitals were nonprofit – these characteristics are similar to those of hospitals awarded payment in 2011.