EHRs: Governors' group recommends incentives--and mandates--for EHR use

May 23, 2008

First, give physicians incentives to adopt EHRs. Then make their use compulsory. It's a game plan from an offshoot of the National Governors Association for promoting digital medicine on a state level.

First, give physicians incentives to adopt EHRs. Then make their use compulsory. It’s a game plan from an offshoot of the National Governors Associationfor promoting digital medicine on a state level

So far, only one state-Minnesota-has flat-out mandated that doctors implement EHRs (the deadline to do so is 2015). A similar bill in the Indiana state legislature fizzled. Massachusetts has a bill in the works that requires doctors to get EHR training to keep their licenses. More legislation like this may pop up elsewhere if lawmakers enact recommendations from the State Alliance for e-Health, formed by the NGA.

The NGA group, echoing Massachusetts lawmakers, says states should make physician licensure dependent on continuing education in healthcare information technology. But the State Alliance for e-Health goes one step further and recommends that states should consider lowering licensure fees for doctors who actually implement EHRs. States could give EHR adopters in Medicaid programs more breaks such as speedier pay and less prior authorization. 

The NGA group encourages state governments to help doctors and hospitals select, purchase, and implement EHR systems. One way is negotiating discounted prices for software programs and IT consulting on behalf of providers. Another way is for state-funded health programs to pay doctors more if they utilize an EHR as Medicare is doing in a pilot project.

The stick promises to replace the carrot, however. The NGA group recommends that states should consider “developing time-limited, voluntary incentive programs that eventually becomes (sic) a state requirement.”