How should you spend your meaningful use incentive?
There are no federal rules specifying how health-care providers must spend their meaningful use incentive checks, but most are using it to either pay down debt incurred in qualifying for meaningful use or fund more information technology (IT) growth.
According to The Advisory Board Company, Medicare-eligible health-care providers received an average about USD$17,300 each, while Medicaid-eligible health-care providers received USD$21,600.
That may not sound like much when compared to the cost of implementing an electronic medical record (EMR) in the first place. In fact, a recent survey of 40 community practices published in Health Affairs came to the conclusion that EMRs are a money-losing proposition for most physicians. Just 27% of practices, it said, would have achieved a positive return on investment.
That data, however, doesn’t factor in all of the non-tangible benefits of an EMR, which can translate into cost savings: Greater efficiency, the ability to see more patients and increased billings.
The fact that many health-care providers are using their incentive checks to fund more IT suggests they‘ve learned from their EMR-implementation experience that technology, despite it’s up-front costs, brings lower costs down the road.