For many physicians, the thought of adopting EMR software is overwhelming, as it can require investing money in computer equipment, software fees and licensing. Not to mention the time that goes into setup, training and implementation, as well as the drastic changes to providers’ charting methods and workflows. The fact of the matter is, implementing an EMR doesn’t have to be as scary as some might make it out to be, as there are many resources available to help physicians make the transition – from regional extension centers to EMR vendors themselves.
With the deadline to start reporting for Stage 1 of Meaningful Use this year fast approaching, physicians eager to receive the maximum incentive payments allowed through CMS should take heed – if you choose not to participate in Meaningful Use this year, you could be missing out on $5,000 worth of stimulus money.
If you want to take advantage of the money available to you through federal incentive programs, we suggest taking note of the following date:
- October 3: In order to earn the full $44,000 in incentive payments, providers must start the Stage 1 reporting period no later than this day.
Of course, the first step to achieving Meaningful Use is implementing fully certified EMR software, and you’ll want to do that a month or so before you need to start attesting to Meaningful Use. This will give you enough time to learn the system, train your staff and start using the EMR with live patients. That way, you can have all the kinks worked out by the time you start reporting.
Fully certified EMR software meets national standards for data exchange (interoperability) and is a requirement for Meaningful Use. If you choose to invest in a cheaper EMR, be careful. Having an uncertified product could cost you more in the long run. Not only will you miss out on Meaningful Use incentive payments, but you run the risk of not being able to exchange health records with other EMR users. This is something that will likely be emphasized more in Stages 2 and 3 of the Meaningful Use program.