Physicians in West Michigan will get help transitioning to electronic health records and qualifying for federal incentive dollars thanks to a partnership with the Physician Organization of Michigan and the Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption (M-CEITA).

The University of Michigan Health System and the Physicians’ Organization of Western Michigan founded POM last year to help physicians and physician groups throughout Michigan remain independent and participate in clinical integration and quality improvement initiatives. The physicians who participate in POM have access to resources, opportunities and support that will allow them to remain in independent practice settings while adapting to the new health care environment.

“We are developing partnerships with M-CEITA and others, so that independent physicians and medical groups will have access to information technology and administrative and clinical services to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing environment without the need for employment by a large health care system,” says David Spahlinger, M.D., executive director of the UM Faculty Group Practice and senior associate dean for clinical affairs at the UM Medical School.

Health care providers use EHRs to manage the vast amounts of patient health information they collect. When patient health data is easier to access, use and share, the quality and efficiency of health care will improve. That is why the federal government has set aside funds to encourage their use.

More than 70 percent of office-based physicians are eligible for federal incentive payments, according to a recent national study, but they don’t have an EHR system that would qualify them for these funds.

M-CEITA is Michigan’s health information technology regional extension center, one of 62 that were created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the adoption of EHRs nationwide. These centers were set up as part of a wide-reaching initiative to modernize health practices, adopt and use technology, and share critical patient information and meaningful use of health information technology. M-CEITA helps health care providers navigate the complex electronic health record marketplace.

“As Michigan’s regional extension center, our job is to provide practical solutions to help practitioners meet the challenges of selecting and adopting health information technology,” says M-CEITA managing director, Mazharullah Shaik, M.D.

“Our goal with this new partnership is to work together with POM to help POWM and other POM-affiliated providers get to meaningful use, receive incentive dollars and help them to use EHRs in a way that improves the quality of care in the broader context of the changing health care landscape.”

Ann Arbor-based Altarum Institute received a grant of nearly $20 million to lead the establishment of M-CEITA, which will be assisting 200 POWM physicians with the EHR selection process. Its technical specialists will help minimize the loss of productivity during the electronic record transformation and help practices meet the aggressive federal timelines and criteria required to receive meaningful use incentive payments.

“One tangible benefit our members receive from our investment in POM with UMHS is the increased access to federal resources provided by M-CEITA,” said Randall Clark, M.D., president of POWM. “Its staff implementation specialists will work closely with our doctors and their office personnel so they have the support needed to meet the challenge of integrating EHRs into their practices.”

Clark adds, “M-CEITA will guide them through the meaningful use process and make sure these practices quickly begin to realize the benefits of EHRs, including incentives provided by the federal government.”

POWM is an independent practice association with 570 physician shareholders across western Michigan.

Physicians who participate in POM through their physician organizations can choose to become a “Colleague in Care.” Besides access to the M-CEITA resources, this status will ultimately give them full access to a clinically integrated network of physicians with an electronic health record system, support for business functions and marketing, and systems to track quality.

UMHS includes a 1,600-member multispecialty physician group, which is composed of faculty from the U-M Medical School who practice at UM Hospitals and Health Centers, and at partner locations throughout the state.


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