• EHR Use and Incentives Among Ophthalmologists: 2011-2016

    By Lynda Seminara
    Selected By: Stephen D. McLeod, MD

    Journal Highlights

    Ophthalmology, July 2019

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    Boland et al. studied ophthalmologists’ rate of meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) in the Medicare Incentive Program, as well as the compensation received. The authors compared these data with those of four other Medicare-billing specialties and found that ophthalmol­ogy had better results than optometry and dermatology but was outperformed by otolaryngology and urology. In addition, ophthalmolo­gists were more likely to stay in the program after their first year of attesta­tion than were all eligible providers from four other selected specialties.

    The study included providers who participated in the Medicare EHR In­centive Program during program years 2011 through 2016. Publicly available sources were consulted to determine at­testation and payment data, which were gathered for ophthalmology, optome­try, dermatology, otolaryngology, and urology. Attestation data for each year and stage of the program were used to determine the number of participating professionals. Also calculated was the proportion of attestations for each EHR vendor. Outcomes of interest were the number of attesting ophthalmologists (by year and stage of the program), the number of attestations per EHR vendor, and the amount of incentive payments. Data were compared for the various specialties.

    The authors found that, in the peak year of participation for each specialty, 51.6% of ophthalmologists attested to meaningful use of EHR systems (2016), versus 37.1% of optometrists (2013), 50.2% of dermatologists (2016), 54.5% of otolaryngologists (2013), and 64.4% of urologists (2016). During the six-year period, the average incentive payments were $17,942 for ophthal­mologists, $11,105 for optometrists, $16,617 for dermatologists, $20,203 for otolaryngologists, and $23,821 for urologists. The EHR systems used most often by ophthalmologists were Epic and NextGen.

    Even though ophthalmology fared relatively well in meaningful EHR use, many ophthalmologists have not participated in the incentive program or stopped participating; 2015 data indicated that 25% were not engaged in the program. Top reasons for nonpar­ticipation by ophthalmologists were high costs and complex reporting.

    The original article can be found here.