HHS tests $150 million pilot program to encourage electronic records


NEW YORK The Department of Health and Human Services, through Medicare, is spending $150 million on a pilot program that will use incentives to persuade doctors to go digital. The reasons are many: it could save hundreds of billions of dollars, cut errors, save lives and make service more efficient.

The program is being tested in Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Main, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia, Jacksonville, Fla., Pittsburgh, Madison, Wis., and Washington, D.C.

Under the program, doctors will receive up to $58,000 and practices will get up to $290,000 to migrate to a electronic record keeping. The cost of a small practice or individual doctor switching to electronic records ranges from $40,000 to $60,000.

But the U.S. still has some catching up to do.

Medical records in Germany are already fully electronic. In addition, Canada is spending $1 billion to make records electronic, while Britain is spending even more.

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