Health & Human Services’ Secretary Mike Leavitt announced 12 communities that will participate in a national Medicare demonstration project that provides incentive payments to physicians for using CCHIT-certified electronic EHRs to improve the quality of patient care. The five-year project is expected to improve the quality of care provided to an estimated 3.6 million people.

Chosen among a field of more than 30 applicants, the communities selected include Alabama, Delaware, Jacksonville, Fla., Georgia, Maine, Louisiana, Maryland/Washington, DC, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Pa., South Dakota, Virginia and Madison, Wis.

Financial incentives will be provided to as many as 1,200 primary care physician practices in the selected communities that use certified EHRs to improve quality as measured by their performance on specific clinical quality measures. Total payments under the demonstration for all five years may be up to $58,000 per physician, or $290,000 per practice.

If you are a PR practitioner for one of the EHR vendors who have participating doctors in these communities, it’s a good opportunity to leverage the project. Promote to the media how your EHR solution is helping move the country toward the National Health Information Infrastructure. Demonstrate the ROI and payment incentives your software is delivering to your customers in the form of a case study pitched to the healthcare IT trades and local media. Encourage trend stories on the project which could include your customer reference.

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By Shawn Whalen, SVP & Director, Healthcare IT Practice, Schwartz Communications