February 21st is the last day you can apply for 2009 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) funding. PQRI awards a bonus equal to 2% of the total amount you billed to Medicare/Medicaid throughout the year. If you’re a health care provider you are almost certainly eligible for this money. Don’t let the window lapse! It’s not too late. An average GP can compile a PQRI report in a few hours. Those using Electronic Heath Record systems (EHRs) can do it even faster.

The concept, at least, is simple:

PQRI requirements apply to services billed under a certain set of CMS claim codes. You create a report based on the eligible claim codes you used during the year. PQRI dictates how frequently each claim code can appear on the report- codes linked to periodic care for chronic conditions, like diabetes mellitus, can be reported perhaps only once per year per patient; whereas codes linked to specific care for acute conditions, like heart attack or stroke, can be reported as many times as you used them. Once you have the report, you assess whether or not you met the PQRI care requirements associated with each claim code on your report. Your rating will be a ratio of the all requirements you met to all the claim codes you listed.

Easy, right? Much more so when a computer does it for you. EHRs have awesome reporting capabilities, and as EHRs increase in strength and prevalence, quality assessment practices of every stripe will become standard throughout the industry. So cash in while incentives are still being offered!

Click here for step-by-step 2009 PQRI reporting instructions. The CMS PQRI portal has additional information and resources, including a toolkit. The AMA also has a resource page and toolkit.

If you’re not sure you can pull a 2009 PQRI report out of your hat by yourself, consider consulting an EHR technician- even if you’re not currently using an EHR. Many EHR providers are offering PQRI-related support. There are also services available online, for a fee. If you think you’ll qualify for a large bonus, hiring a consultant might be worth the expense.

Act quickly. You’ve already earned it- go ahead and claim it! If you decide not to try for 2009, think ahead to 2010. Failing to participate in PQRI might disqualify you for other forms of funding (it will almost certainly be a prerequisite for participation in the ARRA program rewarding the “meaningful use” of EHRs, for instance). Don’t miss out. Start the process today!

Maria Nicholas

Technical Writer