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.

Continue reading

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

Upcoming Meaningful Use Hardship Exception Deadline

Summer’s here, and the July 4 holiday weekend is around the corner. Before packing your bags or lighting up the grill, take a moment to review the meaningful use hardship exception guidelines. The deadline to apply for a hardship exception and avoid a 2016 payment adjustment is July 1 at 11:59 pm ET.

You do not need to file a hardship exception if any one of these scenarios applies to you:

  • You successfully demonstrated meaningful use in 2014;
  • You’re a hospital-based provider; or
  • You’re a new eligible professional who didn’t file Medicare or Medicaid claims in 2014.

You can only file for a hardship and avoid the payment adjustment if you weren’t able to achieve and report meaningful use due to circumstances outside of your control. For example, if you used a vendor prior to coming to Eyefinity who was not able to get their EHR software certified in time, you might qualify for a hardship.

The timeline for hardship exceptions and payment adjustments can be confusing since the payment adjustments occur two years after the participation year.

If you failed to participate in this calendar year… File for a hardship exception by this date… To avoid a payment adjustment in this year…
2014 July 1, 2015 2016
2015 July 1, 2016 2017
2016 June 30, 2017 2018

To help you determine if a hardship exception is right for you, use the Hardship Exception Tool. For more information about filing a hardship exception, refer to CMS’ Payment Adjustments and Hardship Exceptions page.

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


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