Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Data on Physician Incentive Payments Underscore Wisdom of ePrescribing Now, Says Chair of eDoctor, Inc. Medical Advisory Board

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With confusion continuing to reign regarding the various federal government incentive payments available to physicians offices, eDoctor, Inc. cuts through the clutter, citing CMMS data showing that the relatively simple step of ePrescribing can lead to significant payments for a practice.

New U.S. government data, released last week, underscores that physician’s offices should start ePrescribing now to immediately take advantage of federal incentive payments, noted Ingrid Chung, M.D, chair, medical advisory board, eDoctor, Inc.

According to Dr. Chung, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) 2009 data (http://goo.gl/Tn7cU) show that ePrescribing incentives were on average 35% higher than electronic medical record (EMR) incentives for eligible professionals in a side-by-side comparison of the two “pay-for-reporting” bonus programs. The average incentive payments were just over $3,000 per eligible ePrescribing professional, more than 33% percent higher than the $1,956 per eligible professional payments for use of a complex EMR reporting system.

“Bonus payments for simply ePrescribing are higher already and starting on June 30, 2011 incentives will begin to convert to penalties for non-compliance,” said Dr. Chung. “The real kicker is that ePrescribing alone also meets 40% of Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it really is a no-brainer to start ePrescribing today, especially if one is still undecided about electronic medical records.”

CMS paid $148 million to 48,354 physicians and other eligible professionals in the ePrescribing Incentive program. Those who satisfactorily reported the expanded quality measures to Medicare under the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), which requires the implementation of a certified electronic medical records system, received incentive payments totaling more than $234 million, but that figure was split among a greater number of professionals. The ePrescribing incentive program started in 2009 and the PQRS started in 2007.

Both programs currently reward eligible professionals with a percentage of their estimated Part B Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), consisting of allowed charges for covered professional services furnished by the eligible professional during the reporting period. The ePrescribing program currently rewards 1% of the estimated Part B Medicare fee schedule.

Providers who are able to participate in the ePrescribing Incentive Program and the Physician Quality Reporting System Program, but who choose not to, will receive payment reductions from Medicare beginning in 2012 and 2015, respectively for each program.

eDoctor, Inc. is a full-service health IT company based in a Johns Hopkins University facility in Rockville, MD.

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Jim Boyle
eDoctor Inc.
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