There are many reasons to purchase an electronic medical records system sooner rather than later, but recent government incentives make these even more compelling:

  • Full incentive payments are only available to physicians who implement their systems by the end of 2010.
  • Implementing an EMR requires months.  Between hardware installation, training, and switching over from paper charts, there will not be enough time to qualify for the full incentives for practices that procrastinate.
  • A $19 billion appropriation for EMR incentives is available for all physicians.  This is insufficient if a majority of doctors implement EMR systems.  Physicians who wait may find that incentive payments have already been allocated to their peers and are no longer available for them.

The bottom line: the future is EMR.  The time is now.  Call today (877-544-ODOS) so we can begin the process.

What are the government incentives for physicians to adopt EMR systems?

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, incentive payments are available for physicians who show meaningful use of electronic records systems. Physicians who implement EMR systems by 2011 will receive $44,000 per doctor in government incentive payments ($48,400 for rural practitioners). This payment amount rapidly declines for physicians who procrastinate.  Physicians who do not implement EMRs at all will eventually experience up to 5% cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

The following table shows the graduated payment structure of these incentives:

Year of Adoption Payment 2011 Payment 2012 Payment 2013 Payment 2014 Payment 2015 Payment 2016 Total Incentive
2011 $18,000 $12,000 $8,000 $4,000 $2,000 $0 $44,000
2012 $18,000 $12,000 $8,000 $4,000 $2,000 $44,000
2013 $15,000 $12,000 $8,000 $4,000 $39,000
2014 $12,000 $8,000 $4,000 $24,000
2015 -1%MFS  $0  $0 -1%MFS
2016 -1%MFS -2%MFS  $0 -3%MFS

Practices who have not adopted an EMR technology by 2015 will be penalized 1% in their Medicare Fee Schedules. The penalty increases by 1% for each consecutive year.

What are the requirements of the ARRA to receive these payments?

The law states that physicians must demonstrate “meaningful use” of a “certified” EMR to qualify for these incentive payments.  The Department of Health and Human Services has just recently (12/30/2009) published proposed criteria for what these terms mean.  As of now, who will perform the actual certification of EMRs has not been determined.  We have, however, reviewed the proposed criteria for certification and are confident we can meet all standards proposed.  EyeFormatics will pursue certification as soon as the certifying body is selected by HHS.

There are EMRs that claim to be “certified.”  Do these qualify for the government incentives?

Most “certified” EMR systems are certified by CCHIT, a non-profit body that was founded to set quality standards in EMR systems.  It has not been chosen by the Department of Health and Human Services to certify EMRs under the incentive program.  Therefore, a CCHIT certified EMR will not necessarily qualify for the government incentive payments.

Further, CCHIT does not have any criteria for certification of eye care specific EMRs.  Any CCHIT certified EMR system for office practice was certified under the “ambulatory” (ie primary care) standard.  While some functions may have been added to accommodate eye care, CCHIT certified products are not primarily designed for the needs of ophthalmologists and optometrists.

Are there any certified EMRs that qualify for the government incentives?

Not yet.  Until the US Department of Health and Human Services finalizes the criteria for certification, and selects the certifying body, no EMR systems qualify for the incentive payments.  EyeFormatics will pursue certification as soon as HHS permits.

Why should I adopt an EMR system now, before any EMRs are certified?

Practices that wait for release of the final standards from the government may not have time to show “meaningful use” by the end of 2010.  Implementing an EMR system in a practice requires installation of hardware (terminals, wiring, and server installation) and software, and staff training.  We anticipate that when US government certified EMRs become available, there will be a backlog among EMR companies to install these systems.  By beginning your installation early, you can not only beat the rush, but ensure you will not lose out on some of the money available from the ARRA stimulus appropriation.