January 16, 2011
by Constance Knieper
The goal of the Federal Government is to motivate healthcare
providers to implement and use certified electronic health records
(E.H.R.) for all patients. This is a great opportunity for dentists; the
incentives make it possible to recoup up to 100% of the investment in
new technology. There are limitations; not every dentist will qualify
for incentive payments. In fact, the number of dentists that are truly
eligible is far less than one might think.
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The truth is that
moving to certified E.H.R. technology is not mandated by the federal
government. Every provider has the choice to implement and use E.H.R. in
their practices. The law very clearly states that moving to certified
E.H.R. is encouraged. However, certain providers are in effect being
forced to implement and use it by 2015.
All health care providers
are eligible to apply for the certified E.H.R. incentive payments. In
order to qualify for the payments, you must be an eligible provider, use
certified E.H.R. technology, and prove meaningful use. All three
criteria must be met in order to receive any incentive payments.
first step is to determine if you are an eligible provider. This is
extremely important if you are choosing to purchase and implement the
technology in anticipation of an incentive payment. Sadly, many dentists
don’t qualify as an eligible provider and will not receive any
An eligible provider is one that is seeing
Medicaid/Medicare patients. All health care providers can apply for the
incentive payments however only those that are seeing Medicaid/Medicare
patients will qualify. The Center for Medicaid Services website has
tools available to help determine if you might qualify for an incentive
payment and how much the payment might be.
Second, you must
determine if you are a provider that is in effect being forced to
comply. The law states health care providers will be penalized for
non-compliance. The penalty is a 99% reduction in their fee schedule for
2015 and 98% in 2016 and 2017. Providers that must comply have a
patient base that is at least 30% Medicaid/Medicare patients. Again, the
law does not mandate them but is in effect forcing them to comply in
order to avoid the penalty of their fees being reduced.
must find a dental software program that achieves the criteria for
certified E.H.R. technology. Sadly, most of the software available today
fails to achieve all the criteria stipulated in the HIPPA Act. The one
missed in most programs is the “locking” of the chart immediately once
it is closed. This requirement was adopted from HIPPA and is mandatory
in order to receive certification.
Then, even if the program meets
all the criteria,there is only one way to become certified and that is
through The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information
Technology (ONC). The ONC publishes all programs that have received
certification on their website. Remember,providers must use certified
E.H.R. technology to qualify for incentives. No dental software programs
have received certification, either temporary or permanent, at this
Finally, you must prove meaningful use. Basically, this is
demonstrating that the technology is actively in use. To apply for
incentives, you must report to the government that you are using the
technology. This involves filing the requested forms at each stage of
the transition in order to receive the incentive payments. Visit www.cms.org for more information on when and how to file the desired forms.
certified E.H.R. technology has many well known benefits and now, if
you are an eligible provider, it can be done for little or no cost. The
truth is implementation of certified E.H.R. is not mandated by the
federal government; it is encouraged. Every provider should learn if
they are eligible to receive incentive payments before investing in the
technology. This is especially true if a provider is relying on
incentive payment to help offset the costs.
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