The first incentive payments for meaningful use of electronic medical records systems will be handed out soon, according to a statement from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Though it is not yet clear how many or which companies will be getting the first checks, CMS says several have completed the online attestation process to report meaningful use.
The incentives were set aside by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, as part of the stimulus package that was passed in 2009.
As Erica Drazen pointed out recently, the real feat is not attestation, but achieving meaningful use. Drazen, who is the managing partner of Emerging Practices, the research arm of CSC Health Services, said it's likely those that were able to meet Stage I meaningful use requirements this early are the small- to medium-sized practices that had implemented and were using robust electronic records systems before the incentives were even available. Larger practices and hospitals with more complex technology infrastructures will understandably take longer to achieve meaningful use.
In the first year of participation, providers must demonstrate 90 consecutive days of meaningful use before they qualify for the first incentive payment, according to InformationWeek. Continuous meaningful use is required for the providers to receive funds in the next four years. Qualified individuals may earn up to $44,000 over five years. Hospitals, the story says, start with a $2 million baseline that is adjusted according to "a complex formula that accounts for number of beds, discharges from acute care units, and percentage of patients on Medicare and Medicaid."