The passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides significant incentives for physicians and other providers to adopt electronic health records (EHRs). Within the ARRA stimulus package, information technology related to health care receives $19.2 billion. These stimulus funds are intended to enhance the use of electronic medical records (EMRs) by service providers and hospitals.

President Obama signed the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus plan into law on February 17, 2009 and has promised to spend a total of $50 billion over five years to improve efficiency within health care. Additionally, he plans to offer $17 billion dollars through Medicare and Medicaid to encourage service providers and physicians to adopt certified EMR.

Eligible professionals include doctors of medicine, osteopathy, dental surgery, dental medicine, optometry, and chiropractors.

How can you benefit?

Those providers who are not adopting EMR by 2015 will see reductions in their Medicare reimbursements of 1% in 2015, 2% in 2016 and 3% in 2017. The possible incentive offered  before 2015 will be a maximum of $44,000 per physician, depending on when providers implement EMR. In order to receive the full amount physicians must implement EMR technology by 2012; therefore, no payment will be made available after 2015.

Eligible professionals who are meaningful users of certified EHR technology will receive Medicare incentive payments according to the following  schedule:

2012 $18,000$12,000$8,000$4,000$2,000$44,000
2013  $15,000$12,000$8,000$4,000$39,000
2014   $12,000$8,000$4,000$24,000
2015    -1%  -1% MFS
2016    -1%-2% -3% MFS
2017    -1%-2%-3%-6% MFS

Medicaid Incentives

  • Incentive payments are provided for eligible providers who are meaningful users of certified EHR technology
  • Eligible providers can receive (not in excess of) 85 percent of net average allowable costs for certified EHR technology

–     To determine costs, the Secretary of HHS will study EHR adoption requirements

  • Payment structure:
Year Incentive
Year 1No more than $25k
Year 2No more than $10k
Year 3No more than $10k
Year 4No more than $10k
Year 5No more than $10k

Providers receive incentives either from Medicare or from Medicaid under the stimulus package, because they cannot get both as per the law notes.

Defining “Meaningful Use”

You can start earning incentives in 2011 by demonstrating “meaningful use” of EMR. Physicians can earn from $2,000 to $18,000 in a given year. In short, a “meaningful user” is an eligible professional who demonstrates:

–     Use of electronic prescribing functionality,

–     Their EHR is connected in a manner that provides for the electronic exchange of health information to improve the quality of healthcare, and

–     Submits information on clinical quality measures.

How do doctors demonstrate “Meaningful Use”?

–     An attestation (witness statement)

–     Submission of claims with appropriate coding (such as a code indicating that the patient was seen using a certified EHR)

–     A survey response

–     A report

–     Other means specified by the Secretary of HHS

In order to provide information about receiving incentive payments, HIMSS has a few suggestions:

  • Rely on CCHIT as the certifying body for EMRs
  • Adopt metrics that can demonstrate meaningful use, and make them increasingly more stringent over two years or so
  • Work with HITSP and IHE to make sure systems are interoperable
  • Close the existing gap between “certified EMR technologies,” “best of breed,” and “open source” technologies

As per the law defines, eligible providers will be treated as a meaningful user of EMR technology if they meet the following three criteria:

  • Uses a certified EMR in a meaningful manner, which includes the use of electronic prescribing (e-prescribing)
  • Uses a certified EMR that can accommodate the electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care
  • Submit information on clinical quality measures, as chosen by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, for the reporting period

Eligibility of the provider

  • Physicians, nurses and midwife nurses who are not hospital based and whose patient volume is at least 30 percent attributable to Medicare, are eligible for up to maximum 85 percent of their net allowable technology costs, which is subject to specific annual limits.
  • Medicaid incentives will be available only to non-hospital based clinicians, encompassing dentists, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants practicing in rural health clinics.
  • Medicaid incentives range up to $65K over a five-year period.
  • Acute care hospitals with Medicaid patient volume of 10 percent or more and children’s hospitals with any Medicaid volumes are also eligible.
  • Medicaid has not mentioned any penalties for lack of adoption of EMR.
  • After obtaining start-up funds, providers who will prove “meaningful use” can be eligible to receive payments up to $10K annually for an additional four years.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that approximately 90 percent of doctors and 70 percent of hospitals will be using EMR within the next decade, as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Don’t wait! Start weighing your options today. Look for technology with a balanced architecture (a mix of discreet data elements and free flow text). Look to CNS for local support. You have to show meaningful use before 2011. With 750k-1 mil doctors in cue to get deployed there will be a wait – beat the rush.

To schedule a one-on-one conversation or group demonstration with a gloStream EMR expert, contact CNS today!