Need an incentive to implement an electronic health records (EHR) system in your practice? How about $44,000? That’s the amount the federal government is making available to eligible physicians as part of its effort to speed up the adoption of health information technology throughout the U.S. In fact, under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, billions of federal stimulus dollars are flowing to medical practices throughout the U.S. to help physicians set up EHR systems.
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A physician who was recently offered a lucrative position with an otolaryngology practice in his community asked me to review his current employment agreement to determine if it contained any prohibitions against accepting the job. His previous employment contract contained a noncompetition clause that, justifiably, caused him and his prospective employer some concern. As it turned out, in his case, and in many others, the noncompetition clause was not as restrictive as it appeared at first glance. The provision was penetrable and my client joined the new practice with a clear conscience that he was not in violation of his previous contract.
In February, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began rolling out its national Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program, aimed at ferreting out improper payments and preventing fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare system. If you bill for Medicare fee-for-service, you are fair game for a RAC audit. A three-year demonstration of the RAC program, which ended in March 2008, heavily targeted bronchoscopy, injectable drugs and IV hydration therapy. But auditors are rapidly expanding the list, and the permanent program will include adenoidectomies, tonsillectomies, thyroidectomies and other otolaryngology-related procedures.
On Feb. 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (commonly referred to as ARRA or the Stimulus Bill) which includes the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The HITECH Act includes significant changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) that affect otolaryngologists and other health care providers, as well as those who process or work with health care information. Below is a summary of how these new provisions, many of which go into effect this Feb. 17, will affect your practice.
SAN DIEGO-Hearing aids can become a reliable source of ancillary income for otolaryngologists, according to four speakers in the miniseminar, Hearing Aids: The Dollars and Cents of Dispensing, presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS).