Q: What is the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program?
A: The American Recovery and Reinvestment act of 2009 has permitted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to grant incentive payments for healthcare providers who utilize certified EHR technology and demonstrate meaningful use of that technology.
Q: What is the goal behind the EHR Program?
A: There’s more behind this program than urging you the providers to go paperless. The intent behind the EHR incentive program is to standardize healthcare records to a state of consistency that their format can be shared among all healthcare providers and improve overall patient care. With this incentive program, states are required to create health information exchanges, which permit patient information to be exchanged electronically between healthcare providers. With a health information exchange in place, healthcare providers can access patient medical history and current medications. This reduces the redundancy of services and saves money for both you and the patient.
Q: Why is our government paying healthcare providers to utilize Electronic Health Records technology?
A: The intent of the program is to offset the costs of implementation of certified EHR technology and incentivize providers to use EHRs to achieve benchmarks that can lead to improved patient care, including decreases in provider error and a decrease in mortality.
Q: Does my practice management software qualify as an Electronic Health Record?
A: Unfortunately, practice management software doesn’t qualify as an electronic health record, unless it is ONC-ATCB certified. CMS and ONC-ATCB have established standards and criteria for a form of structured data that EHRs must use in order to be useful. It is necessary to use certified software to create an ease of exchange of information. Structured data allows information to be more easily retrieved and transferred between providers, and it permits the provider to use the EHR in ways that can aid and improve the quality of patient care.
Q: How much money can I get from the government Electronic Health Records Incentive Program?
A: If you participate in all six years of the incentive program and meet all of the yearly requirements, you can earn up to $63,750. Medicaid offers $21,250 for the first year of participation to offset the initial cost of an EHR system implementation. For your second through sixth year of participation, Medicaid offers providers $8,500 for each year that they meet the criteria of meaningful use. The last year to sign up for the program and receive the full amount of the incentive is 2016.
Q: Am I required to participate in all six years of the program? Do I have to pay back the money if I drop out of the program?
A: If you are a dental provider, you are permitted to voluntarily pull out of the program without penalties. In order to prevent being penalized, a provider must show proof that you made an effort in good faith to implement the EHR program into your practice before dropping out of the program, with documentation of that effort.
Q: Do I have to tell the government how I spent my incentive money?
A: No. There is no requirement for eligible professionals as to how you must spend your incentive money if you qualified for the Medicaid EHR Incentive program, so long as you have demonstrated that you are using a certified EHR meaningfully.
Q: What does Meaningful Use mean? What are the requirements of meaningful use?
A: Meaningful use means providing proof to CMS that you are using your EHRs in ways that positively affect patient care. Providers must meet the objectives established by CMS for this program. These Meaningful Use requirements are set forth in three stages that must be met over six years of participation in the program. Each stage is intended to achieve certain outcomes, which include data sharing, advanced clinical processes, and improved patient outcomes.
Interested in learning more? Call EHR Funding today and see what we can do to get your practice on the fast track to EHR implementation. (866) 203-3260