FAQs

What is the VCUR 2008 EMR Funding Extension Program?

  • The program is the method by which the AMA and Alberta Health will fulfill certain funding commitments made under the Physician Office System Program’s (POSP’s) guidelines.

    The extension program continues funding for physicians using VCUR 2008 electronic medical records (EMRs) as of January 31, 2014, up to their maximum reimbursement amount of $35,000, or until the program funding is exhausted, the funding agreement with Alberta Health terminates or March 31, 2019, whichever comes first.

    POSP ended on March 31, 2014, and the VCUR 2008 Funding Extension program began April 1, 2014.

Who is eligible for physician funding under the program?

Physicians must meet the following requirements to be eligible for funding after March 31, 2014: 

  • The physician must have achieved Milestone 3 (Go-Live) and been using a VCUR 2008 EMR solution by January 31, 2014.
  • The physician must have signed an offer to participate.
  • The physician must be still using a VCUR 2008 EMR solution.
  • The physician must be in good standing with the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta.
  • The physician must be providing insured services within the province of Alberta.  

What is the “Offer to Participating Physician”?

  • The Offer to Participating Physician outlines the conditions under which a physician may continue to receive funding for a VCUR 2008 EMR after March 31, 2014.

Why do I have to sign a new document to receive funding?

  • POSP ceased to exist on March 31, 2014, and the Physician Participation Agreement you signed with POSP is no longer in effect. The Offer to Participating Physician outlines the conditions under which you will be receiving ongoing funding under the VCUR 2008 EMR Funding Extension Program.

What percentage of my costs will be reimbursed?

  • The VCUR 2008 EMR Funding Extension Program will reimburse 70% of eligible costs, just as POSP did.

    Each eligible physician who implements a VCUR 2008 EMR solution by January 31, 2014, is eligible for a maximum reimbursement of up to $35,000 (70% of $50,000), including GST.

Does the VCUR 2008 EMR Funding Extension Program offer services to support my EMR use?

  • No. It is strictly a funding program. You can contact your EMR vendor for support. 

In the past my EMR vendor submitted invoices to POSP and I was reimbursed. Will the reimbursement process change?

  • Yes, the process is changing. As of April 1, 2014, your vendor will no longer be submitting invoices to the AMA. Instead, your clinic will be responsible for submitting your invoices to receive reimbursement. A step-by-step process is provided in the Program Guidelines.

    After the Master Services Agreement (MSA) expires, the physician may choose to obtain some items from a source outside of their EMR provider (hardware, ISP and service contracts for example).

    To enable this flexibility rather than the former process where the EMR vendor submitted invoices on the clinic’s behalf, the clinic will now be responsible for submitting invoices from a variety of vendors to the program for reimbursement of eligible EMR expenses. Physicians and EMR vendors should discuss implications of support issues for these items if obtained elsewhere.

Will I receive funding if I move to another clinic using a VCUR 2008 EMR?

  • If you currently receive VCUR 2008 funding and move to another funded VCUR 2008 clinic, you remain eligible for continued funding provided you have not reached your $35,000 maximum reimbursement amount and the VCUR 2008 Funding Extension Program is still in place.

    It is worth noting that you can apply your reimbursement funding to the costs associated with migrating your data from one VCUR 2008 EMR to another.

What happens to my funding if I move to a clinic using a non-VCUR 2008 EMR and then later move to a clinic with a VCUR 2008 EMR?

  • You will not be funded during the period of time in which you are using the non-VCUR 2008 EMR.

    If you later move to a clinic with a VCUR 2008 EMR and meet the program eligibility requirements, your funding will be reinstated as long as you have not yet reached your maximum reimbursement amount and the VCUR 2008 EMR Funding Extension Program is still in place.

After March 31, 2014, where can find the forms I need to submit my invoices or change my contact information?

Who do I contact if I have questions about the new program?

What are the significant guideline and process changes between the Physician Office System Program and the VCUR 2008 EMR Funding Extension Program?

  • The key changes allow physicians more flexibility in several areas and reflect the primary role of the new program as providing funding rather than EMR implementation services and funding:

    • There is no longer a requirement that physicians maintain a valid contract with their QSP. After the MSA expires on March 31, 2014, all physician vendor contracts end and the parties may choose to operate without a contract in place (on a month-to-month basis) or renegotiate a new contract.
    • After the MSA expires, the physician may choose to obtain some items from a source outside of their EMR provider (hardware, ISP and service contracts for example). To enable this flexibility rather than the former process where the EMR vendor submitted invoices on the clinic’s behalf, the clinic will now be responsible for submitting invoices from a variety of vendors to the program for reimbursement of eligible EMR expenses. Physicians and EMR vendors should discuss implications of support issues for these items if obtained elsewhere.
    • The $20,000 one-time cost cap has been removed as it limits the ability of physicians to purchase additional hardware or replace failing hardware.
    • The MSA required specific physician unit pricing which restricted how physician’s funding was allocated within the clinic. This requirement has been removed as the MSA will no longer be in effect. Physicians can instead identify how much of their funding amount is to be applied to clinic EMR costs. This may also allow physicians to support costs related to non-eligible physicians within their clinic.
    • The funding extension program will not provide any monitoring of PIA compliance. The obligation for the physician to have a valid PIA is identified in the Offer to Participate and through the Health Information Act

Can physicians use their funding to support their unfunded colleague’s EMR use?

  • Yes, a physician can authorize the allocation of their funding to address the cost of using the EMR incurred by other physicians within their clinic. This is accomplished by completing a reimbursement form to reflect the desired amount. (If more room is required, attach the “Additional Physician Information” sheet.) The result of doing so is the funded physician’s reimbursement allowance will be consumed more rapidly.

If a physician retires from practice, what happens to their remaining VCUR 2008 funding?

  • EMR funding is provided to support an eligible physician's one-time and recurring EMR costs. Since the retired physician will no longer be using the EMR, they would not be eligible for reimbursement of ongoing costs and further funding would not be available.

    Funding is not transferable to any physician who may replace the retiree. However, in the months prior to retirement, a physician could plan to maximize their reimbursement funding.

Can physicians receive funding beyond the cost of their EMR?

  • The total amount of funding physicians receive for their EMR, including funding from the VCUR 2008 EMR Funding Extension Program, may not exceed 100% of the total costs of their EMR. The amount reimbursed through the VCUR 2008 Funding Extension Program will be reduced by the total amount of funding received in excess of 100% of the EMR.

    When a rebate or other reduction received by a physician from a vendor in regard to their EMR contract or month to month agreement is included in the vendor invoice, 70% of the net invoice will be reimbursed.

Can physicians receive funding from more than one source?

  • Yes, provided the total amount of funding received for the EMR does not exceed 100% of the total cost of the EMR.

Can physicians participate in EMR initiatives that generate revenue?

  • Yes. Revenue generated through the use or operation of an EMR solution is permitted and will not reduce the amount reimbursed through the program, provided it is independent of the physician-vendor EMR contract or month-to-month agreement for which the VCUR 2008 Funding Extension Program reimburses.

How long does a physician’s obligation continue under the VCUR 2008 EMR Funding Extension Program?

  • As long as a physician is receiving funding for the use of the EMR through the VCUR 2008 EMR Funding Extension Program, they are obligated to meet the terms agreed to in the Offer to Participating Physicians.

    Once a physician has reached their maximum funding amount and paid the related vendor invoices, they are released from the program’s obligations. The program is voluntary and physicians may choose to withdraw at any time.

The Alberta Medical Association stands as an advocate for its physician members, providing leadership & support for their role in the provision of quality health care.