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Five Strategies for Clearing Health IT Hurdles

In passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, Congress gave the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services authority to oversee a multimillion-dollar incentive program designed to encourage health care providers to adopt electronic health records and use them in a meaningful way. Jettisoning paper medical files in favor of EHRs is fundamental to improving the outcomes and efficiency of the nation’s health care system. Proponents of the switch say EHRs will help eliminate redundant diagnostic tests, reduce medication errors and allow medical professionals to more easily identify effective treatment protocols. It is a gargantuan undertaking, however, one that requires millions of providers to embrace a new way of doing business.

The challenges confronted by CMS as it administers the conversion from paper to electronic records—and its strategy for overcoming them—provide lessons for other federal agencies running programs intended to produce large-scale change.

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