The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released survey results on January 13, 2011, indicating that 81 percent of U.S. hospitals and 41 percent of office-based physicians intend to register for federal incentive payments for the adoption and meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. The Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act authorizes incentive payments for the adoption and meaningful use of EHR technology in compliance with regulations issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and ONC.

Under both Medicare and Medicaid, eligible hospitals may receive millions of dollars for implementing and meaningfully using certified EHR technology. Non-hospital-based physicians and other eligible professionals can obtain incentive payments of as much as $44,000 under Medicare or $63,750 under Medicaid for adopting the technology. To qualify for incentive payments, hospitals and physicians must enroll with CMS, and their EHR systems must meet specific requirements outlined in CMS and ONC regulations. The survey results released by the ONC found that 65 percent of hospitals and 32 percent of office-based physicians intend to enroll during Stage 1 of the program, which occurs from 2011–2. Enrollment opened January 3, 2011.

The incentive program is part of a key initiative in the overhaul of the healthcare system to modernize the nation’s health information technology infrastructure. ONC officials indicated that the survey results reflect a reversal of the low interest in EHR implementation expressed during previous years and that they are encouraged by the survey results and interpret them to mean that healthcare providers are embracing EHR.