These days the ground under physicians’ feet is constantly shifting. The recent historic passage of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or health care reform bill, has set the stage for some of the most significant changes to the U.S. health care system in a generation. What will these changes mean for physicians and your ability to run a profitable practice and provide the best patient care?

While many reform bill provisions won’t take hold for years, the HITECH Act is rapidly reshaping the funding and implementation for electronic health record adoption in the U.S.

According to the Act, physicians are eligible to receive up to $44,000 in total incentives per physician from Medicare for “meaningful use” of a certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) starting in 2011. (Note: Physicians reimbursed by Medicaid can receive up to approximately $63,750 starting in 2011 based on state-defined guidelines.) After releasing preliminary requirements at the end of 2009 and fielding more than 2,000 comments, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released their 864-page final rule on July 13, 2010. For an in-depth analysis of the final rule and the established measures physicians using an EHR will need to meet in order to receive their HITECH Act incentives, click here.