The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes significant incentives for medical professionals who provide Medicare or Medicaid services and use an Electronic Medical Record (EMR).
Who is Eligible?
There are two incentive programs: one for Medicare providers and one for Medicaid providers. If you provide both Medicare and Medicaid services, you must choose one of the incentive programs based on your qualifications and the benefits provided.
To be eligible for Medicare incentives, you must meet three requirements.
Eligible professional. Eligible professionals include doctors of medicine (MDs), doctors of osteopathy (DOs), doctors of dental surgery (DDSs), doctors of dental medicine (DDMs), doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs), doctors of optometry (ODs), and chiropractors. Hospital-based professionals such as pathologists, emergency room physicians, and anesthesiologists are excluded. The law only requires that doctors be Medicare providers; it does not mandate that you see a certain percentage of Medicare patients.
Meaningful user. To be a meaningful user, you must meet three requirements. First, you must send prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. Second, your EMR must connect to other EMRs, such as those at hospitals and other provider practices. Third, you must submit statistical information on quality of care to the government so it can determine if EMRs are improving the health care system.
Certified EMR. For an EMR to be considered certified, it must include patient demographic and clinical health information, such as medical history and problem lists. It must also have the capacity to provide clinical decision support that includes physician order entry (to capture and query information relevant to health care quality). Also, it must exchange electronic health information with other sources.
If you meet these three requirements, you will receive incentive payments according to the following schedule. The greatest benefits are available to medical professionals who will meet the requirements by end of 2011—and beginning in 2015, medical professionals who have not implemented an EMR will have their Medicare payments reduced. Note that the incentive payments are per medical professional, not per practice. Moreover, amounts will be increased by 10% for professionals in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
Understanding the $44,000 EMR Incentives
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