The deployment of EHR products and other high-end healthcare IT systems to small and medium-size practices was the focus of HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt's 2008 HIMSS keynote address in February. He emphasized the sociological change necessary for technology adoption through the example of his experiences spearheading a "smart drivers license" initiative when he was Governor of Utah, saying, "people trust who and what they know as opposed to bureaucracies."
Leavitt's Medicare demonstration project, initiated in late 2007, offers incentives to primary care physicians using Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology-certified EHRs over a 5-year period. Physician group scores on a standardized survey that assesses the specific EHR function employed by the group will result in a bonus. The goal is to show reduced medical errors and improved quality of care for 3.6 million Americans, according to Leavitt. Additionally, he anticipates significant savings for Medicare over time through improvement of quality of care via EHR use.
The demonstration, which is being conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is open to a total of 1,200 physician practices. The demonstration is intended to shift U.S. healthcare to a value-based system, which the secretary is attempting to advance.