Electronic Health Records Mandate: Quick Overview

It seems that recently healthcare bloggers and medical news sites have been discussing the transition of medical records from paper charts to computers.  Why?  I don't think the introduction of the use of the computers in a profession has received so much attention since 1995. 

Why Is the Transition to Electronic Medical Records Newsworthy?

The recent buzz surrounding the EHR (Electronic Health Records) transition relates to new Medicare and Medicaid guidelines.  Medicare and Medicaid have rolled out an EHR Incentive Program in which providers using EHR can receive payment of up to $44,000 through Medicare or $63,750 through Medicaid for use of electronic records in their medical practice.  The EHR Incentive Program began in 2012 and the last year to begin participation is 2014.

What Happens if Providers Choose Not to Enroll?

Providers choosing not to enroll in the EHR Incentive Program will receive a decrease in their Medicare reimbursement.  Beginning in 2015, providers not enrolled in the program will be docked 1% each year for a total of five years resulting in a 5% decrease in payment on all Medicare patients. 

I Own a Clinic, When Do I Need to Act?

If you own a practice that accepts Medicare patients, it is likely in your interest to enroll in this program.  Not only will you receive a payout of at least $44,000 but you will also avoid penalties from Medicare in the future.  Although it is expensive to initiate an electronic medical records system, there are affordable options available and the Medicare payout will off-set some of the associated cost.  Below is the timeline for the EHR Incentive Program:

Confused?  I don't blame you- Medicare is never straightforward.  Cms.gov contains further information you will need to initiate this transition.