The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is accepting public comments on the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 until February 6, and you should consider offering your input.
Within the five-year strategy, ONC emphasizes that it wants to expand health IT adoption across the care continuum, specifically in behavioral healthcare and other segments that are currently ineligible to participate in the EHR incentive program under the HITECH Act.
You’ve already missed out on your share of the $25 billion in incentive payments that the federal government has forked over in the first four years of the program because behavioral health providers don’t qualify. And you’ll continue to miss out if nothing changes. So here’s yet another chance to reinforce the message that you are able and willing to achieve Meaningful Use standards and share data among providers of all types—which should qualify you for incentive payments.
Last week, ONC also released a new data brief that says financial incentives are the top reason why providers adopt and use health IT tools. Sixty-two percent of physicians who invested in EHRs said the incentives drove the decision. Additionally, more than a third of physicians said electronic clinical information exchange with other providers was a major influence on their IT adoption.
For behavioral health, the good news is there are several pieces of proposed legislation in Congress that aim to permit behavioral health providers to start claiming the EHR incentives. Your take away here is that the time ripe, and you need to keep the conversation going.