Introduction: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has incentivized electronic health records (EHRs) implementation through meaningful use (MU) to improve healthcare quality and efficacy. Telemedicine is a key tool that has shown its ability to facilitate MU through technological innovation with cost savings and has shown promise in the area of integrated behavioral healthcare. The purpose of this article is to propose a model of MU to frame the incentivized implementation of an integrated telemedicine (ITM)-specific model to effect system-level change. Materials and Methods: We reviewed the background, principles, and a justification for the ITM Model including cost issues, the development and structure of MU in the context of EHRs, the benefits of integrated behavioral healthcare and telemedicine, and the case for their combined implementation in the form of ITM. Results: The model proposed, the ITM Incentive Program, parallels the current MU program and is composed of three stages. Stage 1 focuses on incentivizing current and new Medicaid providers to adapt, implement, and upgrade technology needed to conduct virtual meetings with patients and other healthcare professionals. Stage 2 is a tiered incentive system with process-focused and track metrics related to increasing the number of consultations with patients. In Stage 3, providers are encouraged to continue use of ITM by meeting thresholds for several objectives focused on clinical outcomes. Recommendations for implementing this model within a payment waiver system are discussed. Conclusions: The ITM Model offers a needed union of integrated care and telemedicine through the combination of technology, business, and clinical processes. The success of MU as a tiered incentive program for EHRs, as well as the precedent of using waiver opportunities for incentive funding repayments, sets forth a strategic framework to successful implementation of ITM to address cost issues and improve quality and access to care in the healthcare system.
- health policy
- meaningful use
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Informatics
- Health Information Management