Important Meaningful Use Deadline Quickly (and Quietly) Approaching

To Do: Meaningful UseYou must register with public health registries before December 1 to fulfill the public health objective of meaningful use in 2015. The objective requires that you be registered to submit data to public health agencies within 60 days of starting your attestation period, which for most providers, was October 1, 2015.1

The public health objective is divided into three measures, from which you must choose two:

  • Measure 1: Immunization Registry Reporting
  • Measure 2: Syndromic Surveillance Reporting
  • Measure 3: Specialized Registry Reporting

There are eligible exclusions, but you must exhaust all available options before you can satisfy this objective by exclusion. First, let’s determine whether you’re eligible for an exclusion for any of the three measures.

Are You Eligible to Claim an Exclusion?

Answer the following questions to determine your eligibility to claim an exclusion from one or more of these measures.

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2015 Meaningful Use Flexibility Rule Brings Much-Needed Relief

Yes, October is pretty late to be formalizing changes to meaningful use (MU) for the current year, but these changes provide some welcome relief to eligible providers (EPs) who are still finding their stride when it comes to MU. Here are the highlights of the adopted changes:

  • 90-day reporting period for all EPs in 2015. All EPs, regardless of previous MU participation may attest to a reduced period of 90 consecutive days for 2015. Although you can attest to any 90-period in CY 2015, the attestation system will be available only between January 4 and February 29, 2016. If you’ve been keeping up with your meaningful use throughout 2015, you can choose any 90-day reporting period. If you relaxed your meaningful use in 2015, your reporting period will likely be October 1–December 31.
  • 90-day reporting period for new participants in 2016. Any EP beginning participation in 2016 may report a reduced period of 90 consecutive days for 2016. All EPs continuing or resuming participation will be required to report a full year for 2016.
  • Streamlined measure and objective reporting. This streamlined reporting eliminates the need to report several redundant objectives and measures that have been widely adopted in the industry (and thus assumed you are fulfilling). While you might view this streamlined reporting as removing the low-hanging fruit, it removes a lot of the clutter that complicates reporting.
  • Aligning Stage 1 and Stage 2. CMS is overhauling the structure of the objectives by eliminating the Menu Set in favor of a streamlined Core Set. All providers, regardless of stage will attest to the same core set. For those EPs who were scheduled to attest to Stage 1, additional exclusions and alternative measures are available.

Highlights of the Changes

Most EPs will breathe a sigh of relief over these two modifications:

  • The Patient Electronic Access threshold is reduced from 5% of the patient population to at least one patient. This is a huge relief to those EPs who serve patient populations who are uncomfortable accessing their records online.
  • The Use Secure Messaging is changing from a percentage-based objective to a yes-no objective. This means that you can report that you have the functionality fully enabled even if none of your patients sent you a message.

In addition, the following measures have been removed because they were redundant or the industry has already widely adopted them as best practice:

  • Record Demographics
  • Record Vital Signs
  • Record Smoking Status
  • Clinical Summaries
  • Clinical Lab Test Results
  • Patient Lists
  • Preventive Care (Patient Reminders)
  • Summary of Care (measures 1 and 3)
  • Electronic Notes
  • Imaging Results
  • Family Health History

These are just the highlights of the meaningful use changes that go into effect for the 2015–17 reporting years. We’ll post the details and updated documentation within the next few days on

Freedom to Be a Doctor

By Dr. James Winnickwinnick, Stockton, CA

There’s no denying that the movement from paper charting toward electronic health records is well underway. While many factors have contributed to EHR adoption, I noticed two distinct attitudes toward this movement from my colleagues:

  • They were active adopters of an EHR because they prided themselves on having the latest technology, and they realized the increased efficiencies that EHRs provide over paper; or
  • They adopted an EHR reluctantly—kicking and screaming—because government regulations threatened to pinch their bottom lines if they didn’t.

Whatever your attitude toward EHRs, the outcome is the same: you’re now charting with a computer.

I admit, early EHRs rubbed me the wrong way. They seemed to disrupt the doctor-patient relationship. I was bothered more by my own experiences as a patient rather than as a doctor. More times than I would like, I had the pleasure of talking to my doctor’s back as he asked me questions over his shoulder, locked to his keyboard and typing my responses. It seemed to me that experiences like that are impersonal, and I swore I would never replicate that experience in my practice. Looking a patient in the eye, listening, conversing and showing that I genuinely care about why they’re sitting in my examination chair are important to me. Jotting notes in a paper chart on a clipboard has allowed me to maintain that relationship. So, how does a doctor maintain that close doctor-patient interaction amid increasing pressure to adopt an EHR?

Well, some doctors still take written notes during the patient visit. They then enter their notes into the computer, or delegate this task to a staff member, after the patient visit. Some doctors have employed scribes. Both of these techniques allow the doctor to maintain the personal patient interaction. But, both methods cost the practice additional time and money.

Another solution is using a tablet, such as an iPad. They’re light and mobile like a paper chart on a clipboard, and yet they’re also powerful and intuitive. EHR companies have recognized these advantages as well, and are now offering native tablet apps for their latest generation products. For a doctor, tablets break the chains that tied us to the keyboard and pulled us away from our patients.

My practice adopted Eyefinity EHR on the iPad. Because of its light and mobile nature, I can use my iPad for charting exactly how I used to with paper charts. I’m able to face the patient, converse with them, and simply swipe my finger to enter findings as I go. The app can record normal findings for numerous procedures at once, so I don’t spend time documenting “clear” for each individual structure I examine. New adaptive learning technology within Eyefinity EHR actually changes and builds my drop-down menus to match my most commonly used plans and treatments. When I’m done with my examination, my output notes are clear and complete, and my staff can actually read them! If I haven’t completed and documented enough elements of the examination to justify the billing code that I want for the visit, the program tells me what I’ve forgotten. My material orders, medical prescriptions, and billing codes are all sent to the next user with the touch of a button. And, the following year, all of this information is brought forward to the next visit—without looking for a chart!

Before tablet-based EHRs were available, I always said that nothing could beat the speed and efficiency of a doctor documenting with paper. Eyefinity EHR on the iPad has changed my opinion. Being able to maintain the freedom to move around my exam room and office like I would with a paper chart and being present with my patients, all while gaining all of the advantages of an EHR system, has revolutionized the way I practice. I believe it’s the very best way to deliver superior service to my patients and grow my practice.


Down to the Wire: Testing Insurance Claims with ICD-10 Codes before October 1

oct1The transition to ICD-10 is now just weeks away. Hopefully, you have already upgraded your practice management and electronic health records systems. If you’re an OfficeMate/ExamWRITER user, you need to be running version 12; if you haven’t downloaded it yet, you can do so now on MyInstallCenter.  If you’re an Eyefinity Practice Management, Eyefinity EHR, or AcuityLogic user, you’re good to go—there aren’t any upgrades that you need to complete!

Once you’re using updated software, nearly everyone from CMS to the AOA is encouraging you to work with your insurance clearinghouse or insurance carriers and send them test insurance claims with ICD-10 codes. Submitting test insurance claims that contain ICD-10 codes will give you practice in using ICD-10 codes; help you work out any transition quirks with your clearinghouse or carriers before the deadline; and, hopefully, instill confidence in your office’s ability to submit insurance claims and get paid after October 1.

Your insurance clearinghouse or insurance carriers should have provided you with ICD-10 testing information; if they haven’t, contact them.

Remember that if you are using OfficeMate/ExamWRITER 12, you can change the ICD-10 start date for individual insurance carriers, making it easy for you to send test data with ICD-10 codes to carriers. For additional help in preparing for and testing before October 1, review the OfficeMate/ExamWRITER ICD-10 Readiness Checklist and view the step-by-step instructions in the Eyefinity Support Community. If you’re using Eyefinity EHR, Eyefinity Practice Management, or AcuityLogic, review the material in the Eyefinity ICD-10 Resource Center for information on sending test data with ICD-10 codes to carriers.

Test now. The transition to ICD-10 is right around the corner.

Internet Explorer 7 Users: Upgrade Your Web Browser Today!

Did you know that older versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported by Microsoft? That means those browsers aren’t receiving critical security patches.

Our top priority at Eyefinity is protecting the security of your patients while striving to keep up-to-date with the latest technology. To keep up with security standards, we will no longer be supporting Internet Explorer 7 on Protect your practice from security threats by updating your browser if you are still using this version of Internet Explorer.

Keeping your browser up-to-date has many additional benefits beyond Newer browsers take advantage of advancements in technology to run smoothly at a faster speeds. Many modern websites won’t work correctly in older browsers, leaving you unable to access all the benefits and functionality. Take advantage of the benefits that a modern browser can provide. Protect your practice and your patients by ensuring that you are using a modern browser version.

VSP steps into the classrooms at CSU Sacramento

VSP_Class2Last month, VSP was given the opportunity to participate in Sac State’s Academic Talent Search program with a week of optometry focused instruction. The class, titled “The Human Eye: Surgeries, Sight, and Spectacles,” allowed 6th-9th grade students with special interest in optometry to experience a hands-on introduction to the industry.

Dr. Jim Winnick developed and taught the class, with assistance from Rhonda Wilson of the Industry Outreach team. The instruction was designed to give students an inside look into the eyes and show how medicine, vision, engineering, and eyewear are connected.

“Teaching is the ultimate form of knowledge sharing. I’ve always enjoyed helping people better understand the visual system and the eye care profession,” said Dr. Winnick. “Teaching these young students was a bonus, as they seemed very engaged and interested in what they learned. My hope is that we left a positive impression with them as they continue their schooling and plan out their career paths.” Over the five-day class, Dr. Winnick and Rhonda welcomed several guest speakers from VSP Global, VSP Optics Group, The Shop, and VSP Mobile Eyes who provided an overview of the program and gave tours on board the mobile clinic.

Students who successfully completed the course requirements – participated in class, turned in homework assignments, passed the final exam and earned an “A” or “B” grade – received one unit of high school credit. What a great way to expose students to the optometry profession!

CMS and AMA Helping Doctors Get Ready for ICD-10

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA) teamed up to help doctors ease into the transition for ICD-10 on October 1, 2015.

Here’s a quick overview of the Guidance regarding ICD-10 flexibilities. The Guidance is for all services paid under the Medicare Fee-for-Service Part B physician fee schedule.

  • Claim Denials. For 12 months, Medicare claims will not be denied solely based on the specificity of diagnosis codes, as long as they are from the appropriate family of ICD-10 codes.
  • Quality-Reporting Penalties. CMS will not impose penalties for the Physician Quality Reporting System, value-based payment modifier, or meaningful use based on the specificity of diagnosis codes, as long as they use a code from the correct ICD-10 family of codes.
  • Payment Disruptions. CMS can authorize advance payments, if Medicare contractors are unable to process claims as a result of problems with ICD-10. To apply for advance payment, the doctor is required to submit the request to their appropriate Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC).

Visit to learn more about the CMS/AMA joint announcement and the Guidance, including these FAQs.



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