EMR Stimulus Q&A: How Do I Apply for the EMR Stimulus Money?

Posted on May 7, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

EMR and HIPAA Answer to EMR Stimulus Questions
Today’s question comes from an EMR and HIPAA reader:
If I may back up, I am not having much luck in finding how we, as a clinic, get ’signed up’ if you will for this program. We already have EHR implemented. We are a rural health clinic that accepts Medicare and caid. We have been told by our EHR provider that they are CCHIT Certified. From what I have read, we are likely eligible however not sure how to get started. Could someone please advise. Thank you

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is that we still don’t know how Eligible Professionals (EP) or Eligible Hospital(EH) are going to be able to “apply” or “sign up” for the EMR stimulus money. I expect we won’t know all the details to actually applying for the EMR stimulus until the end of this year or early next year.

Remember that starting in 2011, you’ll need to show 3 months of “meaningful use” of a “certified EHR” in order to get the stimulus money. That means that CMS has some time before they really have to publish the methods you’ll use to apply for the bonus money. Of course, we all hope it’s published sooner instead of later and ideally before the end of the year so that doctors can plan appropriately for the start of 2011.

Also, to clear up one misunderstanding from the question. CCHIT Certified is NOT the criteria that CMS/HHS will be using to know if you’re using a “certified EHR.” HHS/CMS/ONC have yet to release the final rule for EHR certification bodies and the final criteria that certified EHR software will have to meet to become “ARRA-Certified” or “HHS Certified” (or whatever they end up calling it). We aren’t likely to get all the details on the recognized certification and bodies until at least June and possibly the end of summer.

Justin Barnes, did give some good advice when he said that you should be ‘speaking with your EHR provider to understand how they are going to support you in achieving meaningful use using their “ARRA-certified” EHR.’ Although, I’m a little leery of an EHR company that told you that they are CCHIT Certified and left it at that. It makes me wonder how much they really know about the EMR stimulus money requirements since CCHIT certification doesn’t really matter.

While you wait for more details on the real EHR certifications to happen and for the application process to unfold, you might browse through the meaningful use matrix and other meaningful use details. This is the list of ways that you’re going to have to use your EHR in order to qualify for the money. Certainly would be worth reviewing to see what other EHR features you should be using if you want the EMR stimulus.

Check out the previous EMR and HIPAA EHR Stimulus Question and Answers and please send us other questions you might have in the comments.