Project to pay doctors for using electronic health records

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The Department of Health and Human Services is recruiting 1,200 physicians across the United States to participate in an incentive-oriented electronic health record pilot project.

The project will financially reward physicians who use electronic health records, according to HHS, which announced the program this week. Under the program, physicians will receive additional Medicare payments for completing certain tasks online, such as ordering prescriptions and recording laboratory test results. Those who use the electronic system most often for major tasks and obtain the best scores in an annual evaluation will receive the highest payments.

Currently, many physicians do not believe the initial costs required to set up the technology are worth the work, according to Michael Leavitt, HHS secretary. Only about 10% of physicians nationwide have adopted EHR technology, which costs between $20,000 and $40,000. President Bush has set a goal of nationwide adoption of EHR by 2014.