Top 25 MU attesters earned $171 million in 2012

The 25 doctors who attested to Meaningful Use in 2012 and received the most Medicare reimbursements were paid a total of $171 million, according to a personal blog post from Steven Posnack (pictured), director of federal policy division at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.  

Posnack, who did not post in his official capacity, decided it would be "fun" to delve into the newly released data of physician payments to see who the higher paid Meaningful Users were and which electronic health records systems they used.

"Like a bee to honey, I ... couldn't resist the sweetness of a data set this rich [pun intended]," he wrote.

Combining three different public use files, Posnack found that together, the top 25 doctors attaining Meaningful Use took in $171 million in Medicare payments in calendar year 2012; all of them were paid more than $5 million. He also found that Altos Solutions was the top EHR vendor, with six out of the 25 doctors using that system for Meaningful Use attestation. The second most used system was NextGen.

Nineteen of the 25 doctors were in either oncology or ophthalmology; additionally, 22 of the 25 were male.

Posnack noted that the context in which the payments were made is missing, so that a "payment" may not be the same as what the physician actually took home. He also noted that the payments provide an incomplete picture, since they only represent only one part of a physician's payor mix. 

One commenter additionally pointed out that oncologists and ophthalmologists are two specialties that frequently dispense prescriptions, so that their high reimbursement numbers likely also represented pass through prescription charges.

The data, which has been released in an effort to increase transparency after a federal ban was lifted in 2013, raises concerns about whether the highest paid doctors were engaged in fraud.

To learn more:
- read the blog post