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Register now for 2012 Medicare EHR program

April 4, 2012

Optometrists who are now implementing electronic health records in their practices and who have not yet registered for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program should do so as soon as possible, according to the AOA Health Information Technology (HIT) Subcommittee.

Under the incentive program, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2011, health care practitioners can earn up to a total of $44,000 ($48,400 in federally designated health professional shortage areas) over five consecutive years –  and up to $18,000 in just their first year of participation. 

However, because bonuses will gradually be scaled back over the course of the program, practitioners must register and report compliance with the program’s EHR utilization standards during 2012 to receive the maximum possible payments.

Medicare accepts registrations for the EHR incentive program through a designated Registration and Attestation Web site (https://ehrincentives.cms.gov). 

The registration process takes only about 15 minutes and is not difficult, according to the AOA HIT Subcommittee. 

Registration requirements include:

  • Basic identification and contact information such as name, street address, telephone number, and email address
  • A National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) user ID and password
  • A complete and up-to-date listing in the Medicare P Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) enrollment database
  • A National Provider Identifier (NPI) number.

Practitioners should make sure they have all the required information at hand when attempting to register, the CMS emphasized.

Practitioners can request a NPPES ID and password via the NPPES Web site (https://nppes.cms. hhs.gov); however, because practitioners may need to mail some documentation, the process can take several weeks.

By registering as soon as possible this year, practitioners can ensure they have time to rectify any problems that may be encountered in the course of the registration process, the AOA HIT Subcommittee noted.

They can also ensure they will have as many 90-day reporting periods as possible during 2012 in which to achieve meaningful use.

Before attempting to achieve compliance with the EHR utilization standards during a reporting period, practitioners should check to ensure they have properly installed a complete EHR system certified for use in the incentive program, have an active e-prescribing solution, and understand the required meaningful use criteria they will have to meet.

For additional information, see the AOA website EHR page (www.aoa.org/EHR).

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