Wednesday, June 13, 2012

There Are Healthy Dollars in Hosted is the official site of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs. "The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) as they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology." Doctors have jumped on the government bandwagon; you should too!

See the site for details about the eligibility and the program.

One date to keep in mind: "July 3, 2012 is the last day for eligible hospitals to begin their 90-day reporting period to demonstrate meaningful use for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program."

There are actually certified EHR/EMR systems and modules for Medicare - visit for the list.

Here are 2 interesting figures about the Medicare EHR Incentive Program:

  • Eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 over five years under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. There's an additional incentive for eligible professionals who provide services in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HSPA).
  • To get the maximum incentive payment, Medicare eligible professionals must begin participation by 2012.
  • Incentive payments for eligible hospitals and CAHs may begin as early as 2011 and are based on a number of factors, beginning with a $2 million base payment.
  • For physicians who either have not adopted certified EHR / EMR systems or cannot demonstrate “meaningful use” by 2015, Medicare reimbursements will be reduced by 1%. explains the deadline and the financial loss of not converting to EMR/EHR by 2015.

In 2010, the CMMS spelled out guidelines for EMR as well as state help for admin costs. (See AMA article)

“as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, physicians can receive up to $44,000 in Medicare incentive payments beginning in 2011 for implementing EMR systems. Physicians must be able to demonstrate “meaningful use.” The “meaningful use” standard is measured in stages. Stage 1 starts in 2011 and ends 2012. It requires that providers meet 14 to 15 core requirements and choose five more from a menu of 10 options. Some of these requirements include electronic file system for all patients’ health records, medical billing system, and transcription services. Stages 2 and 3 have yet to be defined.”

Who is eligible? Medical physicians or osteopaths; Dentists; Podiatrists; Optometrists and ophthalmologists; Chiropractors; Nurse practitioners; Certified nurse-midwives; and "Physician assistants who provide services in a Federally Qualified Health Center or Rural Health Clinic led by a physician's assistant".

This program is just about EHR/EMR. It doesn't even begin to get into HIPAA and its associated concerns, like Privacy. [Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.]

HIPAA also has security concerns similar to PCI Compliance: "a standard and operating rules for electronic funds transfer (EFT) and electronic remittance advice (RA) and claims attachments."

So What's in it for Telecom?

Doctors that are moving to electronic medical records systems are taking the first step in cloud migration. They have already accepted the Cloud. This is an opportunity to offer the healthcare practice complimentary services, like remote monitoring, network security, Hosted PBX, Unified Communications, and of course MPLS.

Most doctors will be on the same EHR system as the hospital that they are associated with. Thus, they will want their offices to be connected to the EHR data center securely (via Private line or MPLS).

The fact that they are moving to the Cloud via EHR gives you an opportunity to discuss their data plans, network, mobility, communications, security, and other concerns.

There are many ways that an MSP (managed service provider) can add value to a healthcare office as medicine - well, more precisely, medical payments - head to the Cloud. This migration is all predicated on getting paid by Medicare and Medicaid.
I've hyperlinked to a few resources I liked, but this is by no means comprehensive (or to be mistaken for legal advice). This is a jump off point to go chase Healthcare for Cloud!

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