This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah's Medicaid providers could be eligible for federal money to help them adopt and upgrade electronic medical records.
The state Department of Health is taking applications starting Monday for the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program, part of a national effort to encourage doctors and hospitals to go paperless.
The sharing of critical patient data among providers will "transform" health care, said health department chief David Patton. It will save money and improve patient safety and care by reducing medical errors and duplicate tests, he said.
Eligible health care professionals can receive up to $63,750. Hospitals can expect between $350,000 and $4 million as an incentive to build new systems or upgrade old ones.
The program is reserved for physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who treat a certain volume of low-income and disabled individuals on Medicaid.
Medicare, health care for seniors, pays similar incentives but with more strings attached. Still, participation has been low in the 16 states that launched Medicaid incentive programs earlier this year.
As of August, the 16 states had doled out $248 million in grants to just 3,334 providers and 11 hospitals.
Why that's the case is hard to say, since providers and consumers have so much to gain, said Judi Hilman, executive director at the Utah Health Policy Project.
Hilman is encouraged, though, that Federally Qualified Health Centers or Rural Health Clinics are eligible for money.
"Their patient-centered medical home model will help protect consumer privacy and empower consumers to make meaningful use of their own electronic health information," she said.
For more information, visit http://1.usa.gov/qmJpcn or call 801-538-6929.