Atlantic General Hospital Receives Meaningful Use Funds

Atlantic General Hospital recently received $1.8 million from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) for achieving Stage 1 Meaningful Use.

Meaningful use, by federal definition, is the use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of care while reducing health disparities. This EHR technology should be used to improve care coordination and public health while maintaining privacy and the security of private health information.

Atlantic General launched an electronic record system in its emergency room in November 2011 and has been working since then to expand this system, called PERKS, to other hospital outpatient environments and the inpatient units.

Among the 14 core objectives evaluated for Stage 1 is computerized physician order entry – no more handwritten orders, for testing or prescriptions for example, being submitted for patient care – and maintaining active medication and allergy lists in each patient’s electronic chart.

“Having an integrated electronic system enables the care delivery team to provide continuity of care of the patient with real time information. Clinical decision support is built into the system at appropriate times during provider order entry to ensure the patient has all the appropriate safety checks, and bar-coded medication safety provides for safe administration of meds at the bedside,” said Colleen Wareing, vice president of patient care services at Atlantic General Hospital.

The payments for meaningful use, such as the $1.8 million just received, will return some of the cost of the project to the hospital and allow AGH to devote those resources to other patient care initiatives. This is the first year federal incentive payments are available for these systems, so those who meet the standards this year will be the ones receiving the most incentive dollars from the federal government.

“Overall, the investment in this project will be well over $10 million dollars,” said Barbara Riddell, vice president of information services at Atlantic General Hospital. “But, it’s well worth it. It’s the right direction for AGH and for patients in our community.”

Atlantic General Hospital is the second hospital on the Eastern Shore to receive meaningful use dollars; and they are ahead of more than three-quarters of U.S. hospitals in doing so, based upon a recently published federal report.

Beginning in 2015, CMS will begin penalizing hospitals who haven’t met meaningful use, in the form of lower reimbursement rates for the care provided.

In addition to achieving the Meaningful Use Stage 1 this year at the hospital, all of the Atlantic General Health System (AGHS) physicians who are eligible for these federal incentive payments have met this standard this year. AGHS implemented electronic medical record systems in the physician offices four years ago, and this year AGHS has received $374,000 in Stage 1 Meaningful Use incentive payments in addition to the $1.8 million recently received by the hospital.

About Atlantic General Hospital
Atlantic General Hospital has been providing quality health care to the residents of Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset (Md.) and Sussex (Del.) Counties since May 1993. Built by the commitment and generosity of a dedicated community, the hospital’s state-of-the-art facility in Berlin, Md. combines old-fashioned personal attention with the latest in technology and services. Atlantic General Health System, its network of more than 25 primary care provider and specialist offices, care for residents and visitors throughout the region. For more information about Atlantic General Hospital, visit