Athena Health EHR Stimulus Guarantee Program

I’m always amazed at the ability of businesses to innovate and find new ways to build their business. One of the impressive ones I’ve seen lately is Athena Health‘s EHR stimulus guarantee program. Yes, you might remember that I’ve written about the EMR stimulus guarantees before. Seems like most EMR vendors are providing some sort of guarantee or promise about the EMR stimulus money.

Of course, the Athena Health EHR stimulus guarantee is probably the strongest guarantee I’ve seen. Most other EHR stimulus guarantees still require that the end user fulfill their part of the bargain or else there is no guarantee. Makes sense right? How can an EMR vendor guarantee that you’re going to actually meaningfully use their EHR software? You are the one that’s going to have to show the meaningful use. The EHR vendor can only provide you the software to hopefully make that process easier (although, some probably don’t help this either).

However, Athena Health (from what I can tell) is actually guaranteeing that you’ll be able to get stimulus regardless of if it’s your fault or theres. I imagine they’ll still require that you go through the process, but there guarantee is the broadest of any I’ve seen covering even something that might be the doctors fault. How nice of them right?

Ok, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. From what I can tell, Athena Health makes more of its money from the collections piece than they do from selling software. So, it makes sense why they’re willing to basically give you the software for free if you can’t get the EMR stimulus money. They probably don’t care (that much) about the revenue from selling software. They realize that the real cash cow in their business is the percentage they take from collections. Jonathan Bush never ceases to amaze me. I just wish I could have had a chance to interview him at HIMSS. Maybe next year.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • To guarantee: Collect an average of $10,000 per year per doctor and then gamble the doc will not pursue it when they get no money. This is how gift cards work, large numbers never use them.

    Right now any vendor guaranteeing money is willing to take a potential hit on future business for money today.

    NO vendor can guarantee anything unless the standard is changed or ignored by those handing out money. For example, just one, 170.302 of meaningful use states “submission to immunization registries” as a requirement to qualify. Cities have registries, states have registries the feds may or may not have one – then there is access to them and formats plus no money by the feds is allocated yet!! This is total EMR vapourware.

    Implimentation of laws passed has a history of having the details twisted to meet the regulation.

    Aethna is basically a billing company that gets a lot of money from individual docs for using their billing system, they can afford to say anything to keep docs moving to real EMRs. While not lying, the strategy is to take a $44,000 dollar hit to lock a doc into a percentage of their business for the next decade.

    But I have met the CEO of Athena, he is a dreamer who has lots of money at his disposal. He does have some very good people. But they are not exactly qualified in this area. A double but, the CEO has a reputation of producing – question is if this is his level in the Peter Principle?

    Why anyone would want to pay a per cent for their billing amounts is beyond me when many EMRs will generate data for sending to full service clearinghouses charging under $100 per month?

  • First, the guarantee does require the end user to qualify themselves for the funds by using the system as required and reporting same.

    Second, this guarantee is the same as almost all others, the difference being that Athena has obfuscated and over stated it such that it is very misleading. They are only saying if it doesn’t work, they won’t charge you for the EHR system use, all other charges remain in effect, and they don’t make you whole on the $44k. If you choose an EHR because of the ability to capture stimulus dollars and it ultimately can’t do that then why would you be expected to pay for it anyway? Not only would you be stranded on a non-compliant EHR you invested time and effort to learn and use but you’d be tied down to PM system and revenue cycle management services and all those fees don’t go away. If this is the price of the guarantee, buyer beware! Its time that vendors like Athena put the contract language they use for the guarantee out front and not require you to jump through many hoops to get to that stage or one can only assume that their video and press releases are purposely designed to be the bait before the switch.

  • CEObg,
    I’d just add, why would anyone implement an EHR because of the ability to capture stimulus money? That’s like marrying the not so attractive girl who’s a jerk, because she flashes a little cash.

  • John,
    Could not agree more, its one variable among many and shouldn’t be the primary driver and certainly isn’t enough to compensate for the hassles associated with an EHR solution that becomes a problem for the practice or for practices that really don’t need to rush to implementation. Vendors however will tell push on that button at every chance.

  • The most ipmortant reason for implementing an EHR for many individual Medicaid PCPs is the stimulus money. They think of it as just payment for them accepting low rates and many denied claims for treating the low income patients.

  • Jack,
    I’m afraid you’re right. That’s what scares me. Mostly because I predict that many of these people who focus so much on the EMR stimulus money are going to hate the EMR they select and wish they had never gotten the EMR stimulus money. They’d even wish they could have the penalties instead of the EMR they chose.

    Instead, there are going to be other doctors who choose an EMR because of the benefits it will provide the clinic. Half of them will receive the EMR stimulus and the other half won’t. Either way, these 2 groups will be happier than those who select the wrong EMR, but get the EMR stimulus.

    Of course, the worst case scenario is going to be those who select an EMR in the hopes of stimulus. They go deep in debt implementing an EMR and then something happens during the EMR implementation that they don’t qualify for EMR stimulus money.

    Yes, all of the above scenarios will happen. This is why I think selecting the right EMR is SOOOO important.

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