Stimulus Funding



Abstract

Government stimulus payments to help physicians purchase electronic health record (EHR) software should create tremendous efficiencies and quality of care improvements in the public health sector. The rules for qualifying for the payments are necessarily complex and full of checks and balances so as to mitigate the probability of scammers abusing the system (funded by our tax dollars!).

EHR software vendors are drooling at the prospect of the government subsidizing their prospects' purchase of their software. They are also jockeying for marketing position with promises and guarantees that their software will meet the government's requirements for their customers to be eligible for the incentive payments. While the guarantees may reimburse some providers in the case that a vendor's software fails to meet the government's regulations, they still leave the practice trained on a piece of software that "didn't cut it." That makes it important to choose a vendor with a track record of successfully meeting industry requirements that have become the gold standard to date.

Get Paid to Go Paperless
The U.S. government has set aside billions of dollars in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for eligible providers (EP) to promote conversion to electronic health records (EHR) and outlined penalties for practices that don’t convert to an EHR. Now is the time for your practice to adopt Aprima’s integrated EHR and practice management (PM) solution.

Medical practices that implement an EHR early benefit the most. Practices that implement an EHR in 2010 get the following benefits. First, since payments under the Medicare formula are based on the EPs' Medicare billings, the more time the provider has to see Medicare patients, the greater the chance the provider will be able to receive the maximum payments shown. Second, they'll have the least onerous "Stage" criteria to meet. In the chart below, you'll notice that they'll have two times to attest to Meaningful Use in the Stage One category, two in Stage Two and one in the most stringent, Stage Three. Waiting changes the burden - two Stage 3 requirements that would have to be met to receive the same $44,000. 

 

      Meaningful Use Stage / Payment Amount Under the Medicare Plan

 
 

 2011

 2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Total

 2011

 Stage 1 / $18,000

 Stage 1 / $12,000

Stage 2 / $8,000 

Stage 2 / $4,000

Stage 3 / $2,000

 $44,000

 2012

 -

 Stage 1 / $18,000

Stage 1 / $12,000

Stage 2 / $8,000

Stage 3 / $4,000

Stage 3 / $2,000

 $44,000

 2013

 -

 -

Stage 1 / $15,000

Stage 2 / $12,000

Stage 3 / $8,000

Stage 3 / $4,000

 $39,000

 2014

 -

 -

Stage 1 / $12,000

Stage 3 / $8,000

Stage 3 / $4,000

 $24,000

In short, if you're going to purchase an EHR, don't wait!

Guarantees (and Fine Print)
Every EHR vendor that plans to be around in this business for the long haul is offering a guarantee that their software will enable providers to meet the government's MU criteria. What are the vendors offering if they're unable to modify their software to meet the criteria?

Credits range but are generally related to several months of service or support fees or software license fees. And while that IS money back, be aware of the caveats in the fine print. They clearly represent a windfall in billable hours for the attorneys.

Some vendors will only pay if their software can't pass the hurdle after several YEARS! Others won't pay if the practice has let their support payments lapse. Another says they'll give you your money back but only at the same time that you would have gotten the payment from the government. Hey! Don't you think that vendor will be out of business long before they dole out any money? And here's our favorite fine print. The vendor obliquely notes that if they can't meet the criteria, they will provide software that will meet the criteria. Hmm. Why don't they just provide the software that works in the first place?!

As for Aprima's "guarantee," it's simple. If you're choosing between them and another vendor but the other vendor's "guarantee" makes you all warm and fuzzy, and that is going to be your deciding factor, well, Aprima will match their terms. Word for word. That takes the "guarantee" off the table and focuses the decision on usability – where it should be.

Meanwhile, how do you choose an EHR vendor that is likely to meet the criteria so that you can get started now? Unlike the stock market, in software, past performance is evidence of future results. Choose a vendor whose software has consistently met an independent association or trade group's requirements (*). Why? Because the vendor's software engineers did it before and will do it again.

For more information, please call us at (225) 752-7700 or contact an AOS representative.
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