U.S. bill proposes e-health records incentives

Proposed legislation would give doctors $3 for every patient they move to e-health records in an attempt to push for more widespread adoption

By Grant Gross, IDG News Service March 01, 2007

Doctors would get $3 for every patient signed up to use an electronic health record under terms of a bill introduced Thursday by U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat.

The Personalized Health Information Act would require that the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services create a personal health record incentive program to help speed U.S. adoption of e-health records.

E-health records can cut health-care costs by consolidating patient information and eliminating medical errors, such as prescription interactions, proponents say. U.S. President George Bush has called on the U.S. government and private health-care providers to work together to provide e-health records to all residents by 2014.

Using e-health records would allow patients to avoid filling out forms found in nearly every doctor’s office, Kennedy said. The records would allow health-care providers to send messages to patients, such as reminders that a child is due for a vaccine.

Some e-health records allow patients to send e-mail to their doctors, schedule appointments online, or view test results.

But e-health records have been slow to catch on, partly because doctors haven’t embraced them. Kennedy’s bill would give U.S. doctors $3 for each patient converted to an e-health record over three years.

A spokeswoman for Kennedy didn’t immediately have an estimate of how much the program would cost.

E-health records “are a critical piece of the puzzle as we move forward in an effort to improve the quality and cost efficiency of the health-care system in this country,” Kennedy said. The bill would empower patients to be better informed and would also improve communication between them and their health-care providers, he said.

Several companies and organizations, including Microsoft, e-health record vendor Allscripts, and the American Heart Association, endorsed the bill.

Patients’ ability to access personal health records “is a critical starting point to improved health care,” Peter Neupert, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for health strategy, said in a statement.

Read article here www.infoworld.com

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