By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
CORRECTION: Tupelo-based North Mississippi Pediatrics was one of the first two health care providers in the state to take advantage of a federal program that provides financial incentives for switching to electronic records for Medicaid and Medicare patients. An article in Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Journal incorrectly stated the number of Mississippi health care providers who have switched from paper to electronic records for patients.
The health care providers must go through a certification process to be eligible for the federal program. The federal electronic records program is designed to be more efficient and potentially lead to better results by having information on the patient readily available to various providers.
JACKSON – North Mississippi Pediatrics Clinic is just one of two providers in the state that has switched from paper to electronic records.
Tupelo pediatrician Dr. Amy Price said the doctors opted to switch to electronic health records for their patients because “the paper records had gotten out of hand.”
Price traveled to Jackson on Tuesday where her clinic was honored by the Mississippi Division of Medicaid for the switch, which was made earlier this year.
The nine-doctor clinic has received federal incentives totaling $233,750 for switching to electronic records. Incentives are being offered by the federal government for health care providers to switch to electronic records for Medicaid and Medicare recipients.
Jason McNamara, health information technology coordinator for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the nation’s health care costs are “unsustainable” with some of “highest costs and lowest outcomes. We are too great a country to have that situation.”
The electronic health records incentive package is designed to help improve the efficiency of the health care system. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or stimulus act, which was passed in 2009, the federal government is offering the incentives to health care providers who switch to electronic records for Medicaid and Medicare recipients.
“Electronic health records can help improve quality and safety of beneficiary care, and can make delivery of health care more efficient and effective for our providers,” said state Medicaid Executive Director Bob Robinson.
The belief is that if health care providers switch for Medicaid and Medicare recipients, they will for all of their patients.
Price said that is what North Mississippi Pediatrics did. Price, along with office manager Mitzi Parsons and Michelle Bell, who handles Medicaid billing for the clinic, were on hand at the Sillers state office building in Jackson for a ceremony recognizing the program.
Price said the clinic switched because it opened a satellite clinic in Saltillo and it made it easier to provide seamless care for its patients.
McNamara said $185 million in incentive grants have been awarded to health care providers in 14 states. In Mississippi, $850,000 has been awarded.