CMS Extends Medicare EHR Attestation Deadline

announcementIn a surprise announcement this morning, CMS extended the 2014 attestation deadline for the EHR Incentive Program, popularly known as “meaningful use.” The submission deadline is now March 20, 2015, at 11:59pm (ET).

This extension gives providers a chance to breathe and a little more time to gather their meaningful use data from 2014 and attest. This is fantastic news for all participating providers who want to avoid Medicare payment adjustments in 2016. This is particularly good news to those who are attesting to meaningful use for the first time, since this is their last chance to receive any incentive money for meaningful use under Medicare.

CMS was careful to point out that this extension applies only to the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. This extension does not affect those providers who are participating under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. CMS also urged providers to attest as soon as possible despite the extension.

PQRS vs. CQMs—What’s the Difference and How Do I Report Them?

There’s a lot of confusion and frustration in the healthcare industry right now about the government quality programs, where they overlap (and where they still don’t), and how to report the correct information.

A (Brief) History

The Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) has been around since 2007. Traditionally providers voluntarily reported at least three measures by including level II CPT codes on their Medicare Part B claims, and they received an incentive payment from CMS.

Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs) were introduced in 2011 as part of the EHR Incentive Program, better known as meaningful use. This program required providers to manually enter a calculated percentage for six to nine measures to receive an incentive as part of meaningful use.

A Confluence of Program Changes

Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) initiated plans to align the PQRS and the CQM measures to make reporting easier for providers. At the same time, CMS is laying the groundwork to discontinue the claims-based PQRS reporting that providers have become accustomed to. CMS’ goal is for providers to electronically submit a file that contains all of their yearly quality data to satisfy the requirements for both PQRS and CQMs. You may have heard of this file referred to as QRDA. Continue reading

ICD-10: Change is the One Thing No One Can Avoid

By Marsha Vaughn

Sr. Eyefinity Education Consultantpix

Change is the one no one can avoid. In fact, the only thing you can be sure won’t change is “that things will change”.

How you manage that change to benefit your practice is up to you. Let’s look at how you can handle up-coming ICD-10 code changes.

First order of action is to understand why the change is happening.

With ICD-9 we are running out of codes to effectively communicate patient diagnoses and care. ICD-9 was first implemented more than 30 years ago – I was carrying a bag phone then and the cost of gas was about a buck.

Today, many strides have been made to improve the care, reporting, and sharing of health data through technology. The transition to ICD-10 is the next step. Instead of general codes with lengthy explanations, there will be specific definition in the used code itself. You may be asking will this really simplify things or only make it more complicated as new technology being used for the first time often does? There’s good news, you won’t be the first one trying it. Other countries went to ICD-10 coding years ago, thus it’s an international standard that has been tried, tested, and is actively in use.

Still, change management is challenging.

It is a big change for everyone who diagnoses and bills from the large hospitals to the one doctor towns and specialized practices, such as eyecare. Some of these businesses will suffer if payments were delayed.  And it is a big change for all of the software developers and insurance companies. But, as a patient, as a parent, and as a child of aging parents, I don’t want anyone’s health care compromised, medical coding confused, or billing delayed. Which means I’m committed to making this change a success.

 Sure, ICD-10 is a government mandated change, but I prefer to look on the bright side.

As an employee of VSP Global, Software Division, I work hard with my team to develop the underpinnings of coding and billing. Luckily, we’ve already had a jump on ICD-10, when the year delay was announced. This additional year to prepare makes me certain that the entire medical and insurance communities are at high levels of development and readiness.

Furthermore and specific to our industry, an internal analyst told me that the top ten codes billed through VSP claims comprised 91% of all vision claims and nine out of ten of those ICD-9 codes have a one-to-one match with an ICD-10 code. This means the new codes we will have to learn might not be as difficult as some people make it out to be. How long did it take us to get the ICD-9 codes stuck in our heads? Once the change is made, we will do the same with ICD-10.

Check back with us weekly for more ICD-10 stories from the front line.

Eyefinity EHR and ICD-10

By Phernell Walker, II, BSB, ABOM IMG_3522

Sr. Eyefinity EHR Product Manager

Master in Ophthalmic Optics

 At this very moment I’m typing from an airplane at 35,000 feet above the ground, on my way to visit another client to discuss the monumental change headed our way in just a matter of months, ICD-10.

As the Sr. Product Manager for Eyefinity EHR, I believe the best way to know and understand the pulse of my clients is to work with them up close and personal.  Therefore, much of my time is spent on the road traveling to work with optometrists across the entire country. One thing I’ve recently found is that hundreds of optometrists are expressing their concern about ICD-10. Hearing this feedback led me to conclude that in order to meet my clients needs, Eyefinity EHR would not only have to include a feature that supported ICD-10, but that it also needed a feature that handled it seamlessly in effort to lessen complications for my clients.

So, you might be thinking what I have done to liberate optometrists concerns about ICD-10?

  • Eyefinity’s engineering team took all of the ICD-10 Codes and built them into Eyefinity EHR.
  • We use a complex algorithm that automatically takes the exam information doctors have documented in Eyefinity EHR and then correctly calculates the correct ICD-10 Code for them.
  • Not only does Eyefinity EHR render the correct ICD-10 Code, it also allows optometrists to view the corresponding cross-mapped ICD-9 code in real time next to the ICD-10 Code.

Optometrists can rest assured that Eyefinity EHR makes the transition to ICD-10 hassle and worry free. I know because I see the results in the practices I visit. I see Optometrists who have benefitted from Eyefinity EHR and now use their time and attention to meet their patient’s needs.

You can get a free one-on-one demo of Eyefinity EHR by visiting http://www.eyefinity.com/ehr-efficiency.

ICD-10 Basics

IMG_3522By Phernell Walker, II, BSB, ABOM

Sr. Eyefinity EHR Product Manager

Master in Ophthalmic Optics

ICD-10 is scheduled to replace ICD-9 on October 01, 2015. This affects every health care provider in the entire country, not just Eye Care Professionals (ECPS’s). Think of the significance of expanding the Diagnosis Code count from 14,000 plus codes to a staggering approximate 71,000 plus codes and growing.  That’s definitely a monumental change.  A great example of this exponential change is a basic singular diagnosis code such as myopia, is now expanded to 5 codes.

 

Example:

 

ICD-9 ICD-10
367.1 Myopia H52.11 Myopia, right eyeH52.12 Myopia, left eye

H52.13 Myopia, bilateral

H52.10 Myopia, unspecified eye

 

365.11 Primary Open

Angle Glaucoma

H40.11X0 POAG. Stage unspecified

H40.11X1 POAG, mild stage

H40.11X2 POAG, moderate stage

H40.11X3 POAG, severe stage

H40.11X4 POAG, indeterminate stage

 

 

Meaningful Use Hardship Exceptions Extended

Featured imageCMS has reopened the submission period for hardship exception applications, allowing eligible providers (EPs), like you, one last chance to avoid the 1% Medicare payment penalty in 2015. The new deadline is November 30 at 9:59 pm Pacific. You must complete the Hardship Exception Application and email it to ehrhardship@provider-resources.com.

Chasing Deadlines

October 1 was a frenzied rush as thousands of EPs attempted to attest to meaningful use to avoid the 1% Medicare penalty in 2015. The crushing volume strained the attestation system as well as the call centers of EHR vendors. Frustration increased when EPs attempted to attest to the 2011 Edition criteria under the recent delay because CMS’s attestation system had not been retrofitted to accommodate the revised rules.

Breathing a Collective Sigh of Relief

To alleviate the situation, CMS has decided to reopen the submission period for hardship exception applications after a three-month hiatus. EPs who were stuck in the snarl of October 1 will surely appreciate this extension.

Reading the Fine Print

This extension is not an outright postponement of Medicare penalties in 2015. To be eligible for a hardship exception, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You were unable to fully implement a 2014 Edition certified EHR because your certified software was not available soon enough for you to install, train, and use prior to July 1
  • You were unable to attest by October 1, 2014, using the flexibility options provided in the 2014 Flexibility Rule

Visit the Payment Adjustments and Hardship Exceptions webpage for more information about Medicare EHR Incentive Program payment adjustments.

EHR Optimization: Making the Most of a Disruptive Opportunity

“Physicians that move into the world of EHRs are reminiscent of when Dorothy entered Oz, going from a black & white world into color, says Steve Baker, president of Eyefinity. ‘Moving from paper

Steve Baker, President, Eyefinity

Steve Baker, President, Eyefinity

charts to EHR technologies is a very different world indeed, one that has new and strange things much like what Dorothy experienced.’” Read more for tips and ideas on how to optimize your EHR and make the most of a disruptive opportunity in this The Progressive Physician Article.

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