Government EHR Incentives: Are You Out of Luck—or Lucky?

A reader raised an interesting question on the EMR and HIPAA blog this week. She asked if practices without a Medicare or Medicaid patient base are simply “out of luck” with regard to the government’s EHR incentive program. John Lynn responded:

“…not qualifying for the EMR stimulus money might just be the best thing that’s happened to your practice. That means you won’t be distracted and you don’t need to wait. You can hone in on the other EMR benefits and start reaping those benefits without all the bureaucracy.”

In other words, she can feel free from government pressure to make any particular type of EMR decision. This is exactly the same advice I give to all physicians, regardless of their eligibility for the government’s program—the voluntary nature of the EHR incentives gives you absolute freedom to make the decision that is in the best interests of your practice. Sandra Brown, M.D., reflected that feeling—shared by many physicians—in her response to a past EMR Straight Talk post, when she said that she felt “liberated” by the fact that the government couldn’t force physicians to take the money.

Physicians should use this freedom to evaluate EMRs based on ease of use, speed, flexibility, and any other criteria that they—rather than the government—feel will facilitate delivery of the anticipated benefits, such as:

  • A practice-wide, 100% successful adoption rate
  • Increased physician productivity
  • More efficient use of staff time
  • Revenue growth with decreased overhead
  • Enhanced patient care and service
  • Back-office efficiencies—improved revenue cycle
  • Decreased malpractice exposure

These benefits are guaranteed to far exceed an elusive $44,000 incentive, and physicians can begin realizing a significant ROI immediately—if they chose the right EMR.

One thought on “Government EHR Incentives: Are You Out of Luck—or Lucky?

  1. No one will realize a significant ROI immediately, no matter how good or right an EMR purchase is, like any new technology, there will be a learning curve associated with it that initially leads to a decreased ROI. Unfortunately, we are always concerned about the quick win, look at the long term picture. Make sure the EMR you purchase has minimal switching costs, is scalable, and if the vendor goes out of business for whatever reason, that your system can continue to function or be maintained by a third party without need to start over with a whole new system. The incentives offered should not be the stimulus for EMR adoption but should be considered a facilitator. One last word of caution, make sure you know about the vendor’s data center if you opt for a cloud-computing solution.

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