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How can providers finance EHRs for practices that serve children from 0 to age 21?

There are different sources of funding and incentives that pediatricians can utilize to assist the adoption and use of EHRs in their practices.  These funds are being or will be provided to pediatric practices from many government sources and from some private entities as well.

The Federal government provides various opportunities to assist providers in adopting EHRs.  One area that is particularly relevant now is the establishment of monetary incentives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) available for meaningful users of EHRs.  On September 1, 2009, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a letter to the State Medicaid directors that addresses health IT and EHR funding under ARRA.  Based on available 2006 data, the RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at The George Washington University (PDF - 163KB) go to exit disclaimer determined that about half of pediatricians would qualify for these incentive payments based upon their volume of Medicaid patients.  In addition to these incentives, the Federal government provides grants to providers for certain implementations of EHRs.  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), for example, has provided implementation grants to providers and projects such as a project from Connecticut seeking to use EHRs to improve care for children.  State governments also play a role in providing funding and incentives to providers to adopt health IT.  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) (PDF - 1.7MB),go to exit disclaimer states have provided financial support in varied forms including but not limited to loans, grants, designated health IT funds, appropriations, tax credits, and supplemental payments.  These programs represent some ways in which the government can provide financial assistance to providers.  

Private entities also may be able and willing to use financial means to encourage providers to adopt EHRs.  Health IT funds, mentioned by the NCSL, combine public and private resources to fund health IT efforts in the State.  The NCSL highlights the action taken in Vermont,go to exit disclaimer where health insurers pay a quarterly fee of 0.199% of all their health claims to help fund EHR adoption and implementation efforts in the State. Providers can also obtain funds from other entities through partnerships with hospitals or vendors and from payers.  Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC, for example, provides a significant discount to providers (PDF - 28KB) go to exit disclaimer participating in the Children's IQ Network, a regional health information exchange (HIE) initiative.

These funding opportunities illustrate that pediatricians do not need to be constrained by their own financial situation.  There is money available in different types of sources, and the examples provided here are not exhaustive.  Below are additional resources that may be helpful to pediatricians interested in funding opportunities.

Related Resources:

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
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