Meaningful use’ requirements add red-tape challenges for providers

See on Scoop.ithealthcare technology

A major focus for healthcare providers this year is gearing up for compliance with new federal mandates related to electronic healthcare records. The EHR Incentive Program, commonly referred to as “meaningful use,” will reimburse medical facilities and practices for implementing electronic health records and complying with a host of reporting requirements.

The challenge with the program, according to healthcare professionals, is the complicated compliance process for demonstrating eligibility for reimbursement-as spelled out in a 274-page federal register-and the penalties attached, in the form of decreased Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements in a few years. The incentives will only cover only part of the expenses related to the implementation to EHR and some medical offices are having to move to the adoption of electronic records ahead of their planned schedule in order to receive the full available amount.

Physicians have to choose either Medicaid or Medicare for the incentives while midlevel providers (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) can only participate if they have at least 30 percent of their visits from Medicaid patients. They must go through attestation each year of program participation in order to get the reimbursement. For Medicare, medical facilities can be reimbursed for up to $18,000 during the first attestation year (either 2011 or 2012), with a decreasing amount every year and a total of up to $44,000 over five years. Those attesting in 2013 or 2014 receive incentives for only four and three years, respectively, with a smaller total.

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