Federal government sponsors EHR-support offices

September 18, 2009
Morgan Lewis Jr.
Morgan Lewis Jr.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in late August plans to award $598 million in grants to open as many as 70 regional offices next year to help practices adopt electronic health record systems.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in late August plans to award $598 million in grants to open as many as 70 regional offices next year to help practices adopt electronic health record systems.

"Our [centers] are designed to help the small practices and primary care physicians," says David Blumenthal, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "We're hoping a large number will qualify for 'meaningful use' early in the process." "Meaningful use" is a yet-to-be-defined standard physicians will have to meet to earn a potential $44,000 in incentives over five years from Medicare, with reimbursement penalties beginning in 2015.

The centers will help practices select a certified EHR system and provide "end-to-end project-management support" covering the entire implementation process.