Federal stimulus may put EHR money in your pocket

Starting in 2011, there may be $44,000 coming your way over the following five years if you adopt an electronic health record system.

There are conditions, of course, according to the legislation that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17.

First, the system must be certified. The bill's language says regulators will recognize "a program or programs for the voluntary certification of health information technology." But it does not specifically name the EHR industry's largest certification program, which is operated by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.

If physicians meet those obligations by January 1, 2011, they will receive the first year's lump-sum incentive of $18,000. The following year's incentive will be $12,000, followed by $8,000, $4,000, and $2,000 per year, respectively, through the remaining three years. After 2014, Medicare payments will be reduced by 1 percent for those practices that don't agree to adopt an EHR system, barring changes to the regulation.