|Highmark Inc. Moves To Fund Physician Adoption Of Health Information Technology
Highmark Inc. said that it is contributing $29 million
to help physicians acquire ePrescribing/eHealth Record technology for
This initiative is an alternative to a similar program
Highmark launched in 2005 in which the company contributed significant
funding to promote the adoption of health information technology by
Highmark contributed the funds to The Pittsburgh
Foundation to establish the Highmark eHealth Collaborative, a
supporting organization of the foundation, to fund grants to physicians
to acquire electronic technology with ePrescribing and electronic
health records capabilities, the insurer said.
In order to disburse funds to physicians, the
collaborative was required to obtain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS has been conducting a
lengthy review of this and other initiatives that support the adoption
of health information technology by physicians and has not yet rendered
an opinion as to the tax exemption, Highmark said.
"Due to the delay concerning tax-exempt status for the
Highmark eHealth Collaborative, the Highmark board of directors decided
to approve funding to support physicians directly from Highmark instead
of through the collaborative," said Dr. Kenneth Melani, Highmark
president and chief executive officer. "Under this model, tax-exempt
status is not required before funds can be allocated. Highmark will
directly provide the funds used to help finance electronic health
solutions for Highmark network physicians in our service area. We hope
to be able to begin administering grants to physicians later this
Application information from physicians seeking health
information technology funding that was sent to the Highmark eHealth
Collaborative will be provided to Highmark, and grant requests will be
considered based on the order in which they were received. The grant
application process, in which applications have been accepted during
the past two-and-a-half years, is now closed, Highmark said.
"Through this initiative, sufficient funding will be
available to meet the large number of requests previously received from
physicians," said Melani.
Highmark will pay up to 75 percent of the cost for a
physician’s office to acquire, install and implement an
electronic technology system, up to a maximum of $7,000 per physician,
with the physician’s practice to pay the remaining balance.
Highmark considers its initiative to be a critical step
toward full utilization of electronic health records and the
facilitation of health information exchanges that will improve access
to patients’ medical histories, including medications, test
results and care-management programs.
Address: Highmark Inc., 120 Fifth Ave Pl., Pittsburgh, PA 15222; (412) 544-7000, www.highmark.com.