By Keith Chartier
Time flies. Time is money. These two clichés couldn’t be more apropos as a quarter of 2012 has already passed and the deadline looms for dialysis clinics and nephrology practices to get on board with stage 1 of meaningful use and take advantage of financial incentives from the federal government.
This year is the last year clinics can start meaningful use and still be in line for the full $44,000 incentive over five years. It’s possible to start in 2013, but by then the incentive drops to $39,000 over four years. It’s not always wise to leave $5,000 on the table.
“This really should be seen as a bonus,” said Terry Ketchersid, MD, MBA, Vice President and Medical Officer of Health IT Services Group, which is a subsidiary of Fresenius Medical Care.
However, Ketchersid warned against jumping on board with an electronic health record and attesting for meaningful use just because the financial incentive deadline is around the corner. He said it’s important that nephrologists are truly interested in adopting an EHR—to take better care of patients or to access data remotely.
“They need to see this incentive as a mechanism to help them pay for the EHR,” Ketchersid added. “Jumping in today because they financial incentive is looming, that really is potentially a recipe for disaster. There is a lot of work involved with getting through the framework.”
Many nephrologists are already on board. At the end of 2011, 700 nephrologists had attested for meaningful use with Medicare and started receiving incentive payments, according to information compiled from Data.gov. However, there are well over 7,000 nephrologists practicing in the United States. There is still much room for growth.