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Specialty physician? You can still qualify for EHR incentive dollars
e-Reports, Feb. 7, 2011
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If you’ve heard specialty physicians have little chance of qualifying for federal electronic health record (EHR) incentive bonuses, you’re not listening to the right sources Untitled document

At first glance, the criteria, for achieving meaningful use of EHR systems may seem crafted for primary care physicians. Maybe you looked at the measures released in July and noted quickly that you don’t weigh patients or take their blood pressure, so you’re left out. But exclusions were designed just for specialty physicians – dermatologists, hematologists, orthopaedists and more – allowing the flexibility you need to qualify as a meaningful user.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) modified its rules based on comments it received from various stakeholders. As a result, you need not change the way you care for patients in order to meet the measures and objectives. Any objective from which you are exempt counts the same as if you met that objective – and there are plenty of exemptions available. Both the 15 mandatory objectives list and the list of 10 optional objectives (from which you choose five) have exceptions that, once claimed, count the same as an objective that is met.

That means, if three of the 10 optional objectives don’t apply to you, you’re down to having to comply with only two objectives that do apply because an objective that is exempted counts the same as if it was met. The official guidance states it is acceptable to report “zero” as a value for the denominator of a clinical quality measure if you have no patient visits where it applies. The key is to report it.

The AMA has a guide to the EHR incentives here.

Be sure to check the helpful question and answer section on the AMA website.

Registration for the Medicare EHR incentive program opened Jan. 1; see details on the official website here.

Points to remember about the EHR incentive

  • You must choose between qualifying for the incentive under Medicare or Medicaid; you cannot get an incentive under both programs.
  • You cannot “double dip” and earn the Medicare EHR incentive along with the e-prescribing incentive in the same period.
  • You must submit data on ALL your patients, not just Medicare or Medicaid patients.
  • You can claim an exclusion (report 0 in the denominator) for measures that do not pertain to your specialty practice.
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