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April 2011
Clinical Practice Management
Electronic Health Record Incentives Program: Online Attestation Now Open

Eligible physicians may now start reporting their use of electronic health records (EHRs) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS), a step required for physicians to qualify for Medicare incentive payments for adopting certified EHR technology and demonstrating “meaningful use.”

During this process, called attestation, eligible providers and hospitals that have registered for the Medicare incentive program may report the results of their meaningful use objectives and attest that they have met the requirements to receive inventive payments. (For more about the EHR incentive program and how to participate, see the February 2011 IDSA News and the January 2011 HIVMA enews.)

To learn more about the web-based attestation system, which launched April 18, visit the CMS website. CMS plans to hold a phone call with eligible providers on Thursday, May 5, from 1:30-3 p.m. EDT to explain how to navigate the process and answer questions.  Click here to register for the conference call.  The agency also offers an online calculator to help providers determine if they have met all of the requirements before using the attestation system.

For those participating in the Medicaid EHR incentive program, the date when physicians can begin reporting their meaningful use of EHRs varies by state.

Important general reminders about the EHR incentive programs:

  • Figuring out whether you are eligible for incentive payments is easy.  Complete the online registration, which takes only a few minutes, to determine your eligibility.
  • Only physicians who provide 90 percent or more of their services in a hospital inpatient (Place of Service code 21) or emergency room (Place of Service code 23) setting will be defined as hospital-based eligible professionals and, thus, ineligible for incentive payments.
  • Eligibility for incentive payments one year does not necessarily mean that you will be eligible the next year (or vice-versa). This is because CMS recalculates your percentage of hospital-based services each year to determine eligibility.
  • Even if you are not eligible for these incentives, you need to begin the process of EHR implementation. Practices without EHRs will be at a competitive disadvantage as more health care providers record and transmit information electronically. Your service mix also could change: lack of eligibility for incentive payments may not exempt you from payment penalties beginning in 2015 if you lose your “hospital-based” status.

A schedule of EHR payment incentives and penalties is available online. CMS has a listserv about the EHR incentive program to provide updates on registration, attestation, and the payment process. Click here to join. IDSA’s practice management listserve is another resource for Society members to discuss clinical practice-related issues, including incentive programs. To subscribe, visit IDSA’s website.
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