Acupuncture Software Is In, Incentives Out

on 22 March 2011.

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) has recently approved new medical office EHR (Electronic Health Record) software packages, which can be used for acupuncture practices, medical offices, dental practices, and chiropractic offices. CCHIT is a nonprofit organization approved by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The HHS awarded a contract to the CCHIT to develop an inspection process to determine which software packages meet stringent government EHR standards for functionality, interoperability, and security. There has been a strong push by the US federal government, including President Obama, towards EHRs.

Web Browser and Apple Platforms
Two of the most recent CCHIT certifications have been given to MacPractice and Office Ally. What is most interesting is that neither of these systems are dependent on Windows PC operating systems. MacPractice is on the Apple Macintosh OSX platform and offers desktop Mac, MacBook, iPhone and iPad integration. Office Ally is internet based and can operate on any computer that runs a web browser. These newcomers enter a crowded field of high power Windows PC systems such as Compulink’s Advantage/EHR.

Acupuncture Out of Medicare Reimbursements
There are Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs for medical professionals who adopt CCHIT approved EHRs. Medicare reimbursements are substantial and can add up to $44,000 in payments over a period of six years. In 2011, medical professionals can receive up to $18,000 from Medicare towards EHR purchases. Medicaid reimbursements can add up to a maximum of $63,750 over a period of six years with a maximum payment of $21,250 in 2011. Acupuncturists have been excluded from the reimbursement programs because acupuncture is not part of the Medicare/Medicaid programs. MDs, DOs, podiatrists, chiropractors, optometrists, certified nurse mid-wives, nurse practitioners, and PAs are all eligible.

The reimbursements for EHR software are based on 75 percent of allowable charges to the Medicare system. To receive the full $18,000 from Medicare in 2011, a medical profession must have billed Medicare $24,000. Medicaid reimbursement requirements are more stringent than those of Medicare. Medicaid providers must have at least 30 percent of their patient volume attributable to Medicaid. Providers can be reimbursed from either the Medicare or Medicaid programs but not both.

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