Incentives for EHR Use
Under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) EHR Meaningful Use Incentives Program, eligible dentists who participate with Medicare or Medicaid may be able to obtain incentive payments for adoption and use of certified EHR systems.
Am I An "Eligible Professional?"
See the CMS website for eligibility information and other details. If you are a Medicaid provider and you would like more information about who is eligible to receive incentive payments, see the article entitled "Knowing the Basics of the EHR Incentives Programs," which explains the program and discusses how an eligible Medicaid participating dentist might obtain incentive payments for his or her use of a certified EHR system. If they have not done so, dentists who believe they may be eligible and are interested in participating should determine their eligibility status for Meaningful Use as soon as possible at the CMS site.
Are There Any Penalties If I Don't Use an EHR?
Dentists who are Meaningful Use-eligible Medicare providers may face penalties in the form of adjusted Medicare reimbursements if they fail to both implement a certified EHR and attest for Meaningful Use successfully. CMS has no plans to adjust Medicaid reimbursements, but individual states may or may not penalize eligible Medicaid providers according to their own rules.
Individual states may, or may not, pass their own legislation concerning health care providers’ adoption of EHRs. At least one state, Minnesota, has enacted such legislation.
For dentists who are ineligible to participate in the Meaningful Use programs, the impacts of the Meaningful Use programs are less immediate. However, the lack of federal financial incentives to adopt EHR technologies does not mean that these ineligible dentists will not need to adapt to a changing technological environment over time. For example, states may elect to impose their own EHR requirements, with direct impact for dentists within those states.
A Changing Environment
Also, widespread adoption of secure digital image exchange and secure exchange of continuing care records in medicine are likely to heighten patients' expectations that these technologies will be used by their dentists. New dental school graduates will finish school trained in the use of EHRs and may expect to use one in their daily practice. HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification requirements, as well as applicable state laws, are also pressuring dentists who wish to exchange digital images with other practitioners for referral purposes to do so in a secure manner, requiring development and adoption of new tools, methodologies and safeguards.
Other Meaningful Use Resources
CMS Meaningful Use Stage 1 Overview (PDF)
CMS Meaningful Use Stage 2 Overview (PDF)
American Dental Association
Department of Dental Informatics
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