Archive for January, 2011

Registration for EHR Incentives is Now Open

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

The start of the new year marks the start of registration for health care professionals and providers wanting to take advantage of electronic health record incentives. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is now registering Texas health care providers who are integrating certified electronic health record technology into their practices.

“Registration with CMS is step one in the process,” said Kathleen Costello, who is helping coordinate the Texas electronic health record incentive program. “Once the provider takes that first step, CMS will pass that provider’s information to us and from that point, HHSC will be responsible for enrolling the provider, verifying eligibility and clearing the way for the incentive payments.”

HHSC plans to begin enrolling health care providers registered with CMS starting in February, with the first incentive payments scheduled for May 2011.

Individual health care professionals eligible for the incentives can be:

  • Doctors (MD or DO)
  • Dentists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Certified nurse midwives
  • Some physician’s assistants

These health professionals have to show they have adopted certified electronic health record technology and successfully demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic health records in ways that improve quality, safety and effectiveness of patient care. Eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 over a five-year period through the Medicare incentive program and up to $63,750 over a six-year period through the Medicaid incentive program. HHSC has made available an online tool health professionals can use to help determine which incentive program — Medicare or Medicaid — they might be eligible for.

“One of the criteria for determining which incentive program the professional is eligible for is patient volume,” Costello said. “To be eligible for the Medicaid incentive program, they have to show a certain percentage of their encounters are with Medicaid patients.”

HHSC will be sharing more information about health professional eligibility and the enrollment process during two free webinars scheduled for Feb. 3. [Download PDF]

A separate webinar with information about hospital eligibility is in the planning stages.

To prepare for registration with CMS, the agency recommends providers — health professionals and hospital representatives — familiarize themselves with each incentive program’s requirements by visiting CMS’ website for the programs. Additional resources also are available at the HHSC’s Health Information Technology website.

TORCH Adds LinkedIn to its Social Media Campaign

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Last year, TORCH established a presence on both Facebook and Twitter as a means to enhance networking and information dissemination among its hospital and corporate members. We hope that if you are a part of these online communities already, that you will consider join our sites as soon as possible.

These could become very powerful tools as we head toward the next state legislative session and work to educate the newest members of Congress on rural health issues. There are links at the top of our homepage that will lead you to each site and give you the opportunity to join or to register for a new account. It is a quick and easy process and you will then have access to TORCH and countless other organizations and individuals that are of interest to you both personally and professionally.

Also, we recently created a LinkedIn Group that is dedicated to TORCH, its members and other stakeholders who serve rural hospitals as a part of their studies or career. LinkedIn is primarily a networking site for working professionals. It is also used quite extensively by job seekers and for recruiting.

The TORCH LinkedIn Group page can support messaging and discussions and let you explore your colleagues resumes and accomplishments. We hope that in addition to Facebook and Twitter, that you will join us at Linked in as well. Click on any one of the logos below to get started.