In February, Congress passed the $838 billion Economic Stimulus package. The legislation contains one section that is intended to radically reshape the nation’s medical system.
The Stimulus Bill is a major opportunity for physicians to get paid to implement or upgrade their Electronic Health Records (EHR) system. The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act contains a health IT component of the Bill, the HITECH Act, which appropriates $19.2 billion dollars to encourage the adoption of electronic health records. The Stimulus Bill should help provide most physicians in the United States with an electronic health record system at ZERO net cost to the physician.
- Qualified physicians who utilize a certified electronic health record in a “meaningful” way will receive incentive payments through additional reimbursements via either Medicare or Medicaid.
- Starting in 2011, “meaningful” EHR users can earn $44,000 under the Medicare plan and $64,000 under the Medicaid plan over 5 years.
- Early adopters benefits most as about 70% of the payments comes in the first two years.
- Those engaged in PQRI and electronic prescribing can earn an additional $6,000 – $8,000 per year beginning immediately.
- Physicians that do not adopt an EHR by 2015 will be penalized though % decreases in Medicare reimbursements rates.
- To qualify, you must demonstrate “meaningful” use of a certified EHR.
- The transition to a new EHR system can be a timely process. Typically, the time requirements increase in proportion to the size of the group. If you haven’t started the process, 2011 is a lot closer than many would like.
- Next, if you do not act before the “masses” you may have a difficult time getting on any vendor’s implementation schedule in the near future. Only 20% – 30% of the market has implemented an EHR system. The Congressional Budget Office predicts 90% of physicians will be using an EHR in a matter of just a few years. That means 60% to 70% of the market is going to try to get implemented in the next several years. Even prior to the Stimulus Act, some vendors had waiting lists up to 6 months. Those physician who wait, may have little chance of qualifying as an early adopter.