Federal agencies request use of AFMC-developed tools for use nationwide

More than 1,280 Arkansas health care providers implemented electronic health records (EHRs) and attested to stage 1 Meaningful Use through no-cost technical assistance provided by AFMC HealthIT, the state’s Regional Extension Center for health information technology. The technical assistance was paid for through a five-year federal grant that ended in April. By achieving meaningful use of their EHR system, providers are eligible to receive incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) administered the grant, and AFMC HealthIT, formerly known as HITArkansas, was tasked with assisting 1,280 priority primary health care providers as defined by the ONC. AFMC HealthIT also assisted 20 rural hospitals in setting up EHRs and achieving Meaningful Use. Another 144 primary care providers were assisted outside of the grant. In recognition of achieving 100 percent of its goal and its contributions to the growth of health IT adoption in the state, the ONC will allow AFMC HealthIT to retain the Regional Extension Center title.

“AFMC has a proven track record of helping health care providers implement best practices and attain state and federal incentives for achieving quality care, and our work as the Regional Extension Center is just one example,” Ray Hanley. AFMC president and chief executive officer, said. “To be recognized on the national level for our work is an honor and reflects the high standards to which we hold ourselves.”

While the Medicare EHR Incentive Program will end in 2016, Medicare Meaningful Use is still a critical activity required under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed final rule for the new Quality Payment Program established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program will run through the end of 2021, and AFMC HealthIT will continue the good work of assisting Medicaid eligible professionals with the meaningful use of certified EHR technology under its contract with Arkansas Medicaid.

In addition, the ONC and the Health Resources and Services Administration have asked to use the EHR vendor selection tool developed by AFMC HealthIT. The tool will be shared with health care providers across the nation and will be included in the ONC’s Health IT Playbook. The Health IT Playbook is being developed to provide practical, technical, and workflow assistance, including for Meaningful Use, and resources that practices can leverage when implementing and optimizing health IT.