Loan Program Helps Physicians Tap Stimulus Funds for EMR

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Investing in electronic medical records (EMR) technology can help medical practices increase their efficiency, reducing costs and improving quality of care. Making that investment just got easier thanks to a new EMR loan program from United Bank, available to medical practices in the bank’s Greater Springfield and Worcester County service areas.

Helping practices realize their EMR goals now makes sense, due to government incentives provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act, part of the ARRA, provides significant financial incentives for implementing a certified EMR system — up to $44,000 over five years for practices serving Medicare patients and up to nearly $63,750 for those serving Medicaid patients, depending on the number of physicians in the practice.

The sooner a practice acts, the greater the financial incentive. Practices that adopt and “meaningfully use” a certified EMR system by 2011 or 2012 earn the greatest financial incentive, with incentive dropping each year through 2014, after which there is no incentive payment for Medicare providers. (For more information on the incentive program, visit www.cms.gov/ehrincentiveprograms.)

“Medical practices looking to take advantage of the HITECH Act incentives — and avoid potential future penalties — face a significant, up-front investment associated with implementing an EMR system,” said Michael Moriarty, United Bank’s senior vice president of Commercial Banking. “Recognizing this situation, last spring United Bank created a special EMR loan program to help local medical practices bridge that gap and get up and running with EMR as soon as possible, so they can qualify for the maximum incentive.”

The United Bank program offers some important advantages. The loan features a 12-month draw period, during which borrowers pay interest only at a variable rate of prime +0{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}. After 12 months, the financing converts to a term loan of up to five years at a fixed rate. Up to 100{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} financing is available for qualified practices.

“The whole idea of the EMR loan program is to make it easier for medical practices to achieve their goal of serving their patients more efficiently,” Moriarty said, noting that decisions are made locally at United Bank, enabling faster financing decisions.

“We understand how busy physicians and practice managers are today. That’s why we go out of our way to make financing easy and hassle-free,” he added. “When it comes to helping practices review their options and apply for financing, we’re happy to go to them. United Bank still makes house calls!”

To learn more about United Bank’s EMR loan program, contact Moriarty at (413) 787-1700.

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