More than 52% of eligible nephrology professionals were awarded an electronic health record incentive payment in 2012, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In total, hospitals and other health care professionals were awarded approximately $6.3 billion in Medicare electronic health records incentive payments for 2012, which is more than twice the $2.3 billion awarded to hospitals and professionals for 2011. Almost half of eligible hospitals and less than a third of eligible professionals received Medicare EHR incentive payments for 2012, the report found.

(Study links EHR use to reduced emergency department visits for patients with diabetes)

Highlights from the GAO report

  • The percentage of eligible nephrologists awarded an incentive payment in 2012 was 52.3%.
  • For 2012, the 2,291 hospitals that were awarded payments represent 48% of the eligible hospitals.
  • In 2011, 777 hospitals, or 16% of those eligible, were awarded payments.
  • Nationwide, 72% of hospitals were awarded an incentive payment for the first time in 2012.
  • Acute care hospitals were nearly twice as likely as critical access hospitals to have been awarded an incentive payment for 2012.
  • Hospitals in rural areas were 3.1 times more likely to have been awarded an incentive payment for 2012 compared to 2011, a slightly greater increase than for hospitals overall.
  • For 2012, 183,712 health care professionals were awarded payments, which represents 31% of the eligible professionals and an increase compared to 2011.
  • In 2011, 58,331 health care professionals, or 10% of those eligible, were awarded incentive payments.
  • Seventy five percent of health care  professionals that were awarded an incentive payment for 2012 were new to the program.
  • General practice physicians were 1.5 times more likely than specialty practice physicians to have been awarded an incentive payment for 2012.

Health care professionals with the lowest total amount of Medicare Part B charges were 3.3 times more likely to have been awarded an incentive payment for 2012 compared to 2011, which was a slightly greater increase than for professionals overall.

Download the full report from the GAO.