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EHR Incentive programs for Eligible Dental Professionals

Implementing an electronic health record system (EHR) in your dental practice can offer a lot of benefits from improved efficiency to better health outcomes for your patients. However, such systems can be expensive and quite a few medical professionals are yet to make the switch from paper charts and records. To encourage uptake among clinics and hospitals, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) in the United States has started incentive programs for eligible professionals, who can demonstrate meaningful use through certified EHR technology.

The programs do not offer reimbursements for purchasing EHR application suites. It is not enough for dentists to just install one in their office. To claim incentive payments, participating professionals must be able to demonstrate the following:

1. They use certified EHR systems and
2. They are utilizing all the capabilities of the software to achieve meaningful use benchmarks

There are currently two ongoing programs: Medicaid and Medicare. While there are differences between them such as the incentive amounts and timeframe of implementation, both programs require health care providers to show meaningful use of EHR software. Meaningful use involves using EHRs to improve public health, positive health outcomes and patient involvement in health care. Providers should store health data of patients electronically which can be easily exchanged with other professionals to improve care coordination, while preserving the privacy and security of such data.

The incentive programs have three stages and providers have to meet certain objectives under each stage to qualify for payments. Stage I focuses on entering and storing patient data in a properly structured format. This ensures easy retrieval for later use as well as facilitating exchange between various medical professionals to improve overall patient care. All doctors have to meet the objectives of stage one to be eligible for the second stage of the program.

Stage 2 involves improving health outcomes through greater involvement of patients in care management and using EHRs to support advanced clinical processes. It includes e-prescribing, providing patients with clinical summaries during each visit and giving them the ability to download and view their health information online. Stage 3 criteria focuses on improving overall population health, decision making support for high-priority conditions such as cancer and heart problems and access to self management tools for patients.

The EHR incentive programs are designed to encourage healthcare professionals to not only make the transition to digital storage of records, but also to use advanced features of applications to deliver better care for their patients. For additional information, contact our specialists at mu@dovetail.co.

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