athenahealth begins collecting EHR ‘Meaningful Use’ dollars for physicians

May 28, 2011

WATERTOWN, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– athenahealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHN), a leading provider of cloud-based practice management, electronic health record (EHR), and patient communication services to medical groups, today announced that the first Medicare Meaningful Use incentive payment dollars have been issued to its physician clients using athenaClinicals, the company’s EHR offering. This marks the first step in the fulfillment of the Company’s Federal Stimulus Bonus Payment Guarantee Program.

The 2009 HITECH Act provided for $19.2 billion in federal incentives to spur physician adoption of electronic medical records as a step toward improving health care quality while reducing costs. According to the Act, physicians are eligible to receive up to $44,000 from Medicare, over five years, in total incentives per physician for “Meaningful Use“ of a certified EHR starting this year. Physicians reimbursed by Medicaid can receive up to approximately $63,750 starting this year based on state-defined guidelines. The definition and requirements for Meaningful Use were released by the government in July 2010.

Dr. Allen Ferguson, a family doctor in Eaton, Ohio, and early adopter of athenaClinicals, athenahealth’s cloud-based EHR, is a recipient of the maximum one-year reimbursement payment of $18,000 and is eligible for an additional 10% for practicing in a designated Healthcare Professional Shortage Area. This payment represents the first of many as athenahealth clients are guided, tracked, and coached through the multi-stage Meaningful Use process, from implementation to attestation to receipt of reimbursement checks. It also represents the first step in the validation and fulfillment of athenahealth’s guarantee, unique in the industry for guaranteeing federal Meaningful Use incentive payments, not just Meaningful Use certification.

Dr. Ferguson commented, “If you ask a doctor today if they think they are providing good care, they’d say they are doing the best they can. But now because of Meaningful Use measures and athenahealth’s ability to guide me literally as I make and input clinical decisions into patients’ electronic health records, there are little boxes that pop up and say ‘Well, you didn’t do this or need to do that.’ In effect, their service has given me the peace of mind to know that I am taking all the right steps to be compliant, becoming a better doctor and a more viable practitioner of medicine along the way. Collecting reimbursement dollars free of pain and hassle is sort of this really nice incidental.”

With every athenahealth provider sharing a single instance of cloud-based software, the company has a real-time view into how every provider on the network is using the EHR, enabling the athenaClinicals performance team to successfully guide and coach each provider through best practices and help ensure they are achieving Meaningful Use criteria efficiently and effectively. Through its service-driven model, athenaClinicals also takes much of the administrative work off the provider with regards to registration, attestation, and fulfillment of Meaningful Use requirements—activities that can slow practice workflow and take time away from patient care. As part of the athenaClinicals service offering, providers receive continuous support in satisfying certain measures, such as submitting tests to immunization registries and patient authorized entities, and receiving constant training and support through resources like webinars and the Meaningful Use Resource Center website, which can be accessed using the following link: And, as new Meaningful Use criteria are released through Stages 2 and 3 of the program, athenahealth’s model will rapidly incorporate the new measures without doctors needing to reinvest in training and capital for new versions of software.

“We are thrilled to see Dr. Ferguson earn his first check, but as I wrote in a recent blog post, we’ll reserve celebration for when all of our providers’ boxes for meeting Meaningful Use measures have been checked and their dashboard lights flash green for go,” said Jonathan Bush, CEO and Chairman of athenahealth. “The underlying goal of our bonus guarantee program is the goal of all of our services: to see that every one of our providers is rewarded for doing the right thing—and to take as much of the administrative hassle as possible off of their shoulders in the process. And so, as our doctors demonstrate their ability to successfully take the leap of faith to EHRs, we like to think that we’re demonstrating our ability to make good on our word.”

athenahealth offers a federal stimulus bonus payment guarantee program that assures its web-based services will help doctors across the nation to meet EHR certification requirements for achieving Medicare Meaningful Use and to obtain the Year 1 program incentives offered by the HITECH Act. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services formally announced the final definition of Meaningful Use on July 13, 2010, and the program started on schedule on January 3, 2011. Physicians will have until June 30, 2012, to participate in athenahealth’s Medicare Meaningful Use guarantee program. athenaClinicals was certified on September 30, 2010, as a Stage 1 ONC-ACTB 2011/2012 complete EHR for all 44 clinical quality measures. Please visit to learn more about athenahealth’s EHR and the federal stimulus bonus payment guarantee program.

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