EHR Incentive Program Blog Series Part I: Meaningful Use

The CMS EHR Incentive Program requires that the EHR you use and the information you submit meet the requirements of the EHR Incentive Program. So, what are these requirements? To receive an EHR incentive payment, providers must show they are “meaningfully using” their EHRs by meeting thresholds for a number of objectives. CMS has established the objectives for “meaningful use” that everyone must meet to receive an incentive payment. In other words, it’s not enough just to own a certified EHR. Providers must show CMS that they are using their EHRs in ways that positively affect the care of their patients.

In order to demonstrate “meaningful use,” providers need an EHR that stores data in a structured format. Structured data allows data to be easily retrieved and transferred, and it also allows the provider to use the EHR in ways that can aid patient care. For more information about certified EHR technology, click here. You can also find a complete list of certified EHR technology at the Certfied Health IT Product List (CHPL) website. Click here to see it.

CMS released a final rule in August 2014 that grants flexibility to providers who are unable to fully implement 2014 Edition Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) for an EHR reporting period in 2014 due to delays in 2014 CEHRT availability. Click here to see more detailed information about the requirements for Stage 1 and Stage 2 from CMS.

 

 

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CMS Finalizes EHR Meaningful-Use Rule

CMS has finalized a rule allowing hospitals and eligible professionals more flexibility in how they meet meaningful-use requirements for the electronic health-record incentive program. The rule gives providers a longer timeline and more flexibility in meeting the incentive goals laid out by the stimulus program first created in the 2009 HITECH Act. The rule changes the beginning of the third stage of meaningful use for the first cohort of adopters from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017. Additionally, providers struggling with adoption of 2014 certified EHRs will be given more flexibility. The finalized rule has received some criticism from stakeholders who appreciate the flexibility of the rule, but believe it offers little relief.

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Proposed Rule Provides EHR Certification Flexibility

CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology are issuing a proposed rule that would allow providers to use the 2011 edition of certification criteria in 2014. The new rule, released on May 20, will be published in the Federal Register on May 23 and will allow providers to use the 2011 edition of certified electronic health record technology for Stage 1 or Stage 2 in 2014. Additionally, providers will have the option to attest to the 2013 definition of Meaningful Use core and menu items and use the 2013 definition of clinical quality measures.

Providers will need to use the 2014 edition of certification criteria in 2015. The proposed rule “formalizes the agencies’ intention to extend Stage 2 to 2016 and to begin Stage 3 in 2017.”

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Government Proposes New LTC EHR Certification Criteria

Long term care providers may have to start looking for the government’s approval when shopping for electronic health records systems, if a newly proposed certification criteria takes effect. Long term care and post-acute care have generally been excluded from the government’s Meaningful Use program, but recently, the government has proposed voluntary certification criteria for EHR systems used in nursing homes and post-acute settings. The draft criteria are “focused on interoperability, privacy and security, and modularity that will improve providers’ access to the functionality they need from their electronic health records.”  In addition, the proposed criteria includes the ability to “create, maintain and transmit” Minimum Data Set assessments and data sets. The aim of the EHR certification is to create more uniformity in the market.

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AMA Attempting to Make MU Program More Physician-Friendly

The American Medical Association (AMA) is attempting to make the Meaningful Use program more physician-friendly, recommending several changes in a letter to CMS. In the letter, the AMA warns that unless the electronic health record incentive program is modified, physicians will drop out, patients will face disruptions and penalties, thousands of physicians will be financially penalized and outcome-based delivery models will be jeopardized. The AMA notes that the “single most pressing change needed to ensure physicians can successfully participate in the MU program” is “adding flexibility, both to the threshold required to earn the MU incentives and to avoid the penalties.”

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CMS: ICD-10 Will Not Be Delayed

Although providers, payers, and claims clearinghouses were looking to delay the ICD-10 deadline, CMS has made it clear that this will not happen. However, CMS did state that it will make some case-by-case exemptions for providers having a hard time meeting their Meaningful Use Stage 2 targets. In addition, physicians and other eligible providers whose EHR incentive programs operate on the calender year, will have more time and three dates: the first days of April, July, and October to start their 90-day clocks. CMS officials also noted that Stages 2 and 3 of the EHR incentive payment program will need to fully meet all criteria by 2015, but providers and health IT vendors with legitimate issues may submit applications to CMS for “hardship exemptions.”

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Medicare EPs Must Attest by February 28 to Receive 2013 Incentive

Eligible professionals (EPs) have until February 28, 2014 to register and attest to demonstrating meaningful use for the 2013 Medicare EHR Incentive Program.  You must attest by 11:59 pm on February 28 to receive an incentive payment for your 2013 participation.

You must attest to demonstrating meaningful use every year to receive an incentive and avoid payment adjustment.

Payment adjustments for EPs will be applied beginning January 1, 2015 to Medicare participants that have not successfully demonstrated meaningful use.

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Medicaid EPs participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program need to refer to their state deadlines for attestation information.