VITL Exceeds Target For Signing Up Primary Care Providers
Montpelier, Vt. (Feb. 27) – Vermont Information Technology Leaders, Inc. (VITL) has exceeded its target for signing up Vermont primary care practitioners to receive assistance with implementing electronic health records (EHR) systems. More than 85 percent of Vermont’s primary care providers are now working with VITL to either install an EHR or to use their existing system to further improve patient care.
VITL is an independent non-profit organization that assists Vermont health care providers with health information technology. VITL has been designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a regional extension center for health information technology, the only such center serving Vermont. VITL receives federal and state funding to assist Vermont primary care providers with EHRs.
Physicians and certain other health care professionals who use federally-certified EHRs can qualify for incentive payments from either Medicare or Medicaid, if they meet a set of criteria defined by the federal government. As a regional extension center, VITL educates Vermont providers about the federal EHR incentive program and then helps them with meeting its requirements. Preparation for meaningful use also helps prepare a practice to participate successfully in the state’s Blueprint for Health care improvement initiatives.
With 857 practitioners signed up, VITL has surpassed its target of recruiting 845 Vermont primary care providers, said David Cochran, MD, VITL’s president and CEO. “There are a total of about 1,000 active primary care practitioners in the state, so almost all of them have chosen to work with us. We’re gratified that such a high percentage of Vermont’s primary care providers have decided to switch to electronic patient records and participate in the federal program for using the technology to improve the quality of care that patients receive,” he said.
So far, 579 of the primary care practitioners signed up with VITL have actually begun to use an EHR, Cochran added. The rest are in various stages of acquiring a system and are receiving help from VITL’s staff in that process.
Once a practitioner begins using an electronic system, VITL’s staff continues to provide assistance with achieving the federal criteria for Medicaid or Medicare incentive payments. So far, 35 of the primary care providers that VITL is working with have met the criteria. “VITL’s team is in the field every day working with practitioners around Vermont, helping them overcome any barriers to meeting the federal criteria for using EHRs in a meaningful way. We expect many more Vermont primary care practitioners will reach this milestone in 2012,” said Cochran.