Mar 21, 2011 – According to US department of Health and Human Services registration for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program is open as of the 4th of January 2011 and the program itself will continue through 2016. You can register prior to implementing a certified EHR or regardless of your PECOS enrollment status. To qualify for Medicare EHR incentive payments, Medicare eligible professionals must successfully demonstrate meaningful use for each year of participation in the program. Meaningful use is officially defined as putting into action and meaningfully using an EHR system. In addition to the incentive payments, providers eventually obtain benefits beyond financial incentives, such as error reduction, records and data availability, clinical decision support, reminders and alerts as well as e-prescribing and refill automation.

The scheme of incentive payments is rather simple. The sooner you register for the program, the more money you will eventually receive. Therefore, if you are already qualified in 2011, the maximum incentive amount you will receive is $44,000 over 5 years. To receive this maximum payment, you must begin participation by 2012 inclusively. However, if you demonstrate the meaningful use of EHR later than 2012, you will still get reimbursed by a total amount of $39,000 if registered in 2013 and $24,000 in 2014 accordingly, over remaining years of the program.

Professionals who failed to indicate their use of EHR by 2015 will have a payment adjustment to their Medicare reimbursement. The payment reduction will start at 1% and increase each year that a Medicare eligible professional do not demonstrate meaningful use, to a maximum of 5%.With reference to the official website of HHS, incentive payments are made based on the calendar year. The reporting period for the first year is any 90 continuous days during the calendar year. The reporting period for all subsequent years is the entire calendar year.

In addition to all of the above, EHR incentives are also available for the professionals who provide services in Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and they will receive a 10% increase in their annual EHR incentive payments. However, this type of reimbursement will not be possible for the eligible professionals participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

It is easy to conclude that using EHR systems wisely or so to say ‘meaningfully’ will only be profitable for physicians in the next 5 years. So why not take advantage already and go for it by registering now? Good luck and Happy Incentives!