Today, Louisiana Department of Health Hospitals Incoming Deputy Secretary Kathy Kliebert was joined by leaders from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and CHRISTUS Health Louisiana to support the Louisiana Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program and recognize Winn Community Health Center, the first federally qualified health center (FQHC) in the nation to receive an incentive payment.
Through the Louisiana Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, which began Jan. 3, 2011, eligible Medicaid providers or hospitals can receive payments for demonstrating they have adopted, implemented or upgraded EHR in their practices. As of Jan. 11, five eligible hospitals and 55 eligible providers in Louisiana had enrolled.
Louisiana Medicaid received federal funding for this program through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health, or HITECH, Act, which established programs under Medicare and Medicaid encouraging health care providers to adopt and effectively use EHR and health information technology. Louisiana is among the first states, along with Iowa, Oklahoma and Kentucky, encouraging EHR use through Medicaid.
"As one of the first states offering incentive payments to medical professionals who adopt this practice, I am proud Louisiana can serve as a leader in applying health information technology in new and innovative ways," said LDH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "Electronic health records have been proven to better coordinate patients' care, reduce administrative burdens for providers, curb medical errors and aid in the timely, secure exchange of information. I hope all eligible professionals in the state will follow the lead of Winn Community Health Center and these hospitals to participate in this program, and help us build the state's health care infrastructure for the 21st Century."
Kliebert noted that a robust health information technology infrastructure benefits patients and providers alike in making patient care safer and more efficient.
"The money is only a part of the picture here. This is really about the hospitals, doctors, nurses and other health care providers who are taking those critical, but difficult first steps to change how they deliver health care," Kliebert said. "And in the end, it's about delivering safer, more effective, more fluid and efficient health care services to the people of Louisiana."
Under the federal guidelines for this program, FQHCs, which treat people in traditionally medically underserved communities, are one type of eligible facility. Louisiana is the first state to have an FQHC enroll and receive payment for using this technology effectively.
"Using electronic health records is in the best interest of our patients, which is why we enrolled in the Medicaid incentive program as soon as registration opened," said Deano Thornton, chief executive officer, Winn Community Health Center. "As a federally qualified health center, our goal is to always provide the highest quality, comprehensive care for the community we serve. These new tools are allowing us to do just that while giving us new ways to manage the complex health care needs of so many of our patients."
Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA), the statewide trade Association of the FQHCs, is partnering with the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum Regional Extension Center to proactively execute a plan assisting its members in enrolling in the program and achieving meaningful use.
"We were truly thrilled that Winn Community Health Center has been recognized as the first FQHC in the state and nation to receive its Medicaid electronic health record incentive payment," said LPCA Executive Director, Rhonda Litt. "It is exciting to know that in the midst of receiving negative news regarding our state's health indicators, Louisiana can proudly say that one of its FQHC providers has set precedence for the rest of the state and the nation in successfully achieving meaningful use."
Through the program, eligible providers receive an initial payment for adopting electronic health records, and can receive continued payments for five more years if they demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology in ways that can be measured significantly in both quality and in quantity. Providers can earn more than $60,000 throughout a six-year participation period. Eligible providers include physicians (primarily doctors of medicine or osteopathy), nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, dentists and physician assistants practicing in FQHC or rural health clinics led by a physician assistant.
The Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum (LHCQF) Resource Center serves as the state's hub for technical assistance, guidance and information to support health care providers in adopting and meaningfully using EHRs.
LHCQF Executive Director Cindy Munn, said "This is an important milestone, as we see providers receiving incentives for their efforts to implement health IT. This is the first step toward seeing the meaningful use and exchange of health information, and a critical tool needed to improve the health of Louisiana citizens. These providers are to be commended for leading the state in this effort."
Through the program, children's hospitals and acute care hospitals that treat Medicaid patients are also eligible for incentive payments. Incentive payments to participating hospitals are based on many factors, but each will receive at least $2 million as a base payment. The hospitals participating in today's event are among the first five in the state to register.
"We applaud LDH for its leadership in making it possible for LSU Health Sciences Center at Shreveport to begin implementation of electronic health records throughout the statewide LSU Health System," said Chancellor Robert A. Barish, M.D., M.B.A. "These funds will enable our hospital to improve patient safety and quality of care for our patients, for example through instantaneous access of medical records and disease management programs. The electronic health records also will enhance our research database strengthening our research program. Over time, the electronic health records are expected to reduce costs as well," he said.
Stephen Wright, president and CEO of CHRISTUS Health Louisiana, said, "I would like to extend our thanks to the Louisiana Department of Health for their speed and effectiveness in coordinating this funding, which is vital in our efforts to continually upgrade our services in a tireless pursuit of higher quality care. A fully-functioning electronic medical records system will not only help us provide more efficient and coordinated care, but also make it easier for patients to access their own health data and increase collaboration in their treatment. This is just another step in our quest to provide accessible, high quality care, which is essential for all those we are privileged to serve."
Interested participants should visit LDH's EHR Incentive Payment Program page at www.MakingMedicaidBetter.com, call 225-342-4810, or e-mail mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how they can enroll for the program and receive payments.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog at www.myhealthla.org, Twitter at http://twitter.com/La_Health_Dept and search for the Louisiana Department of Health on Facebook.