2nd-year EHR incentives require year-long meaningful use

June 20, 2012

Health care practitioners who successfully attested compliance with Medicare standards for the “meaningful use” (MU) of electronic health records (EHR) last year, and thereby qualified for bonuses under the 2011 Medicare Electronic Health Records Incentive program, will have to meet Medicare EHR utilization criteria all year long if they want to qualify for incentives again in 2012, according to the AOA Health Information Technology (HIT) Subcommittee.

“While practitioners in their first year of participation need only maintain compliance with specified EHR utilization criteria for 90 consecutive days over the course of a calendar year to qualify for the Stage 1 Medicare EHR incentives that were available in 2011, they must meet specified utilization criteria continuously for 12 months to qualify for their second year of participation,” said Dr. Gross.

Practitioners can earn up to $18,000 for meeting EHR use requirements during their first year in the Medicare incentive program, up to $12,000 for meeting requirements during a second year in the program, and as much as $8,000 for meeting requirements during subsequent years in the incentive program.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are expected to announce standards for Stage II meaningful use soon.

The Medicare EHR Incentive Program runs from 2011 to 2016. Health care practitioners can qualify for incentives for up to five consecutive years. Practitioners who fail to meet EHR utilization requirements by 2015 will be subject to Medicare fee reductions.

“Optometrists who met Medicare Meaningful Use EHR standards during the first year of the incentive program should continue to meaningfully use EHRs for all patients so they do not fall behind on compliance during years two-through-five of the program,” Dr. Gross said.

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

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