Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Electronic Health Record and how does it differ from Electronic Medical Record?

Electronic Health Records (EHR) refers to a suite of products and services which enable physicians to access and manage all aspects of their practice within one comprehensive solution. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) refers to the specific program, or with our software, the specific functionality which stores and retrieves patient information and demographics. Although Electronic Medical Records is the single most important function of our EHR software, it is accompanied by Practice Management (PM) and other solutions which permit increased office efficiency and patient care.

What is American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARR Act) and how does it effect your practice?

In February 2009, President Obama signed into law The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). According to this law, the U.S. Government will provide $19 billion in funding to encourage the adoption of Interoperable Healthcare Information Technology Systems such as EHR or Electronic Health Record.

ARRA provides a great opportunity for physicians to automate their practice with an electronic health record (EHR system) and receive financial incentives for its use.

What is the meaning of “meaningful use”?

The phrase “meaningful use” is still in the process of being defined. However, according to ARRA guidelines, a user is a “meaningful user” if the product they are using is, certified by CCHIT, includes electronic prescribing, has the ability to share data and is capable of quality reporting.

What kind of incentives are available for use of EHR?

For a physician to be eligible for incentives offered, they have to demonstrate “meaningful use” of Health Information Technology (HIT). There are two kinds of incentives. Each healthcare provider will be eligible for either Medicare or Medicaid incentives.

1. Medicare Incentives

Medicare Incentives start in 2011 and will be available to all non-hospital based physicians who accepts Medicare Patients. Eligible Physicians may receive up to $44,000 over a period of five years. Any physician who does not adapt to an EHR by January 1, 2015 will be penalized to reduced Medicare payments. Here is a Medicare Incentive Schedule:

Medicare Incentives Schedule

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total
$18K $12K $8K $4K $2K   $44K
  $18K $12K $8K $4K $2K $44K
    $15K $12K $8K $4K $39K
      $12K $8K $4K $24K
No Pay
No Pay

2. Medicaid Incentives

Medicaid Incentives will be available to all non-hospital based clinicians such as dentists, certified nurses, physicians assistants practicing in rural health clinics and midwives. These incentives range up to $65,000 over a period of five years. Minimum participation required is 30% except pediatricians for whom it is 20%. 25,000,00 will be available as state loan funds in the first year for the purchase of an EHR, after which providers who prove “meaningful use’"will be entitle to $10,000 annually for next four years. No penalties have been defined by Medicaid for non-adoption. Here is the Medicaid Incentive Schedule:

Medicaid Incentives Schedule

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total
$25K $10K $10K $10K $10K       $65K
  $25K $10K $10K $10K $10K     $65K
    $25K $10K $10K $10K $10K   $65K
      $25K $10K $10K $10K $10K $65K
        $25K $10K $10K $10K $55K
          $25K $10K $10K $45K

What is the right time to acquire an EHR?

The time is “Now”. An early start will give a provider enough time to adopt to the changes in their practice and therefore will be in a better position to demonstrate effective “meaningful use” otherwise the provider may not ready for the incentive when it starts in 2011.

Are there any penalties for not using EHR?

Healthcare who are not utilizing EHR will have their Medicare fee schedule reduced by 1% in 2015, 2% in 2016 and 3% in 2017. No Medicaid penalties are anticipated. Hospitals which are not using reporting by October 2014 will be penalized.

Do I have to collect data for a period of time before being eligible to apply for incentive reimbursement?

This hasn't been determined yet, but probably when data collection begins in early 2011 it will continue for the near future.

I am affiliated with a health enterprise, but work for a small practice. Will I receive incentives through both the health enterprise and the practice?

While details are not fully defined, it seems unlikely that smaller provider practices with a larger affiliate partner will be able to “double dip” and receive monies from both incentives.

What will happen to a practice or hospital not using a certified EHR and reporting data?

Practices that are not actively using and reporting with a certified EHR will have their Medicare fee schedule reduced by 1% in 2015, 2% in 2016 and 3% in 2017. No Medicaid penalties are anticipated, however, penalties will apply to hospitals that are not using and reporting by October 2014.

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