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 theÂ perceivedÂ cost of implementing an electronic medical record (EMR) in the first place. Some recently published surveys have come to the conclusion that EMRs can be money-losing proposition for some physicians. These reports highlighted that less than half of the participants saw, or would see, a positive return on investment. This data needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as it only factors in direct returns on the initial cost of investment, as in the cost of implementing an EMR would be more than the potential return from savings on technology.
This makes sense, as most clinics and offices can’t simply raise fees to cover for the cost of new technology. The problem is, these findings are one-sided as the data from these surveys doesnâ€™t factor in all of the non-tangible benefits of an EMR. These benefits can translate into extensive cost savings including: Greater efficiency, the ability to see more patients and increased billings. These three benefits alone will see a greater return on investment in the long run, see costs recouped faster and profits grow.
The fact that many health-care providers are using their incentive checks to fund more IT suggests theyâ€˜ve learned from their EMR-implementation experience that technology, despite itâ€™s up-front costs, brings lower costs down the road.