HITECH means bonus for tech savy physicians

By May 3, 2010 Businesses

The HITECH Act passed on February 17th, 2009 could stimulate some medical practices to make changes in the way they do business in 2010. This act allows physicians to qualify for up to $65,000 in Medicaid incentives and $44,000 in Medicare incentives for the adoption an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. In this series of blogs we will break down what type of physicians and practices will qualify; the critical EHR components that must be met to satisfy the “meaningful use” requirements; what steps need to be done and by when to qualify for stimulus dollars; how these changes will effect your practice going forward as a physician; and ways to implement these changes into your practice without giving all your stimulus dollars to your software vendors and IT contractors. As always we will try to bring you straight forward information to help your business succeed in the future.

Lets jump right into part 1 of these series to see if you or your medical practice actually qualifies for this economic stimulus.  The American recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) details that the following health care providers all qualify for the HITECH incentives:
Hospitals
Skilled nursing facilities
Nursing facilities
Home health entities
Long term care facilities
Health care clinics
Community mental health centers
Renal dialysis facilities
Blood centers
Ambulatory surgical centers
Emergency medical service providers
Federally qualified health centers (FQHC)
Group practices
Pharmacists
Laboratories
Physicians (see below)
Practitioners (see below)
Indian Health Service providers
Rural health clinics
Therapists (in most cases)

If you are not on the list above don’t give up so soon as you might qualify as the type of practice defined in the Social Security Act, section 1861(r):
Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy – M.D. or D.O.
Doctor of Dental Surgery or Medicine – D.D.S or D.D.M
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine – D.P.M.
Doctor of Optometry – O.D.
Chiropractor – D.C.

There are however some practices that right away do not make the cut.  They are as follows:
Free clinics who don’t bill Medicare or Medicaid
Physical Therapists (believe it or not!)
Hospital based physicians such as pathologists, anesthesiologists or ER doctors
Acupuncturists or other holistic providers
Any practice not eligible to receive Medicare or Medicaid payments

Great, you made the list, what’s next?  Now you must look at your patient and billing records to see if you meet the next hurdle.

Not all of these practitioners will be eligible for the credits.  In order to be eligible, you must either accept Medicare patients, or have 30% of your patients be Medicaid patients (20% for pediatricians).  If you don’t qualify, there may actually be benefits to not switching over in that the Secretary of Health and Human Services will begin assessing levels of EMR use in 2011 and may offer additional grants and incentives irregardless of patient makeup.  But don’t wait too long; Health and Human Services can start implementing penalties on practices that don’t switch over by 2015.

Stay tuned for our next blog on this issue where we will go over “Meaningful Use” and what you need to do to take advantage of these incentives.