There’s still time for physicians to take advantage of the incentives offered through the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs.
Physicians who start in 2013 can earn incentives totaling $39,000 over a four-year period. Those who wait until 2014 will leave $15,000 on the table. They will be eligible for only $24,000 in payments.
More than 120,000 eligible healthcare professionals have received incentive payments since the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs began in January 2011. But in case you haven’t been paying attention, the program will soon change from offering a carrot to being a stick. Eligible physicians who do not demonstrate meaningful use in 2013 will face penalties come 2015.
First-time participants have only about 18 months to purchase, install and test a system and train staff. The good news is that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is requiring providers to demonstrate meaningful use only for a three-month EHR reporting period in 2014, regardless of the stage they are in.
That means physicians participating for the first time must begin reporting no later than July 3, 2014, and complete their attestations by Oct. 1, 2014, to avoid penalties. If seeking an exception, physicians must apply no later than July 1, 2014, to avoid a payment adjustment in 2015.
Those practices that are just now beginning the journey toward purchase of an EHR system may want to consider purchasing a system that is certified for the 2014 edition of EHR technology. All participating physicians will need to upgrade their EHR systems to the 2014 edition beginning in 2014 to qualify for the program, regardless of which stage of meaningful use they are in at that time.