Stimulus funding increases use of Health IT by Medicaid Hospitals

John Reichard | CQ HealthBeat | December 14, 2012

Hospitals in the Medicaid program have sharply increased their use of health information technology (IT) in response to about $12 billion in incentive payments available to them between 2011 and 2019 under the economic stimulus law, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says.

In 2009, the year the law (PL 111-5) was passed, only 9 percent of hospitals had adopted electronic health records, the report says. The GAO found that in 2011, the first year of the payments, 1,964 hospitals, or 39 percent of the 5,013 hospitals eligible, got a total of $1.7 billion in Medicaid incentive payments to adopt EHRs.

The GAO conducted the study to learn the impact of the payments on the adoption of health IT. It also wanted to identify characteristics of hospitals that hadn't applied for the payments. "Hospitals with the highest number of total beds were two times more likely to have been awarded an incentive payment than hospitals with the lower number of beds," the study said.