Electronic Medical Records Stimulus Package
Why EMR Financial Incentives Matter to Your Patient and Your Practice
Each day, the American health care system conducts more transactions than the New York Stock Exchange, most of which are on paper and at risk of human error. The Institute of Medicine estimates there are between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths attributed to medical errors annually. While not all errors can be avoided by the adoption of EHRs, there is no doubt that standardized, interoperable systems spurred by the electronic medical records stimulus package will move physicians in the direction of improved quality and efficiency and reduced errors and waste.
Increase Your Practice Efficiency and Earn Increased Fedearl Bonus Payments Quickly
The electronic medical records stimulus package offers eligible providers financial incentives to improve the efficiency of their practice as well as patient safety. If meaningful use of an EHR is demonstrated, under the medical records stimulus package, eligible providers who see the mandated number of Medicaid patients will receive payments of up to $44,000. The medical records stimulus package also provides incentive money of up to $63,750 to eligible providers who see the predetermined number of Medicare patients. The actual amount of incentive money for the Medicaid program varies by state and interested providers should check with their state Medicaid administrator for the potential funds available to them.
Reporting Measures Increase Quality of Care and Simplify Qualification for Incentives
The electronic medical records stimulus package also requires that meaningful use include electronic reporting of data on the quality of care. Clinicians will have to report data on three core quality measures in 2011 and 2012: blood-pressure level, tobacco status, and adult weight screening and follow-up (or alternates if these do not apply) to meet the requirements of the legislation associated with the electronic medical records stimulus package. Clinicians must also choose three other measures from lists of metrics that are ready for incorporation into electronic records.
The government may spend as much as $27 billion in incentive payments in the next six years, according to CMS. Under the legislation of the electronic medical records stimulus package, physicians who already have invested in EHRs must upgrade their systems to meet certification criteria.
RECs in Your Region Help Ensure You Satisfy Federal Incentive Criteria
The electronic medical records stimulus package also provides for the establishment of Regional Extension Center (RECs) tasked with assisting practices and health clinics in their area with the selection of a certified EHR that meets the needs of their practice. Small practice primary care physicians and small and rural hospitals and health clinics are expected to gain the most from advice furnished by the REC in their specific region. However, these RECs will also serve as a resource for all providers in an area, giving assistance, as feasible, to any doctor, hospital or clinic making the request. To meet program requirements, each REC organization has a target number of primary care physicians, based on population needs, they are required to assist in the first two years of the program. To date, 62 RECs have been established as the result of the electronic medical record stimulus package.
Act Now to Maximize Your Incentive Payments and Avoid Future Penalties
With the carrot also comes the stick. The electronic medical records stimulus package mandates that eligible providers who fail to adopt and demonstrate meaningful use of EHR technology by 2015 will have their fee schedule reduced. Medicare fee schedule reductions start at 1% in 2015; 2% in 2016 and 3% in 2017 and for each year after that.
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