CLEVELAND - Ohio doctors and other care providers are using millions of dollars of federal money to build electronic health records systems.
Ohio has received $531.3 million from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as of March 1, the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer newspaper reported Friday. The money has gone to more than 12,500 physicians, hospitals and others.
Ohio is sixth in the country for the number of providers receiving support.
"The goal of the electronic health records network is for treatment and diagnostic information to follow patients wherever they choose to seek care," Dan Paoletti, CEO of the Ohio Health Information Partnership, told the newspaper.
Providers seeking the federal money can each receive as much as $44,000 over five years from Medicare or $64,000 over six years from Medicaid, said Catherine Costello, project manager for Ohio Health Information Partnership. They are permitted to draw from only one of the two government health care funds.
According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, the initial cost for a provider to set up an electronic health records system is $15,000 to $80,000.
Care providers are not required to have electronic records, Costello said, but if they haven't adopted the technology by the end of 2014, they could face cutbacks in their Medicare reimbursement starting in 2015.
"The goal is to move away from record keeping strictly for documentation and billing and toward using the information to measure improvements in health," Paoletti said.
Providers taking the federal money must report annually to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services three required clinical quality measures and three other measures that fit their patient population.
For example, an internal medicine doctor serving adults is required to track tobacco use, blood pressure and weight management, as well as three others, such as the number of patients tested for diabetes, cardiac failure and those over 50 receiving flu shots.
Electronic records will not change how doctors and patients make decisions about care, Costello said. Patients still will have to give permission for their electronic health records to be accessed by any caregiver or institution.
Ohio has about 183 hospitals and 23,000 practicing physicians. Paoletti said Ohio has the potential to receive a total of $1 billion to convert to electronic records.
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