Last Chance for Meaningful Use Incentives, Avoid Penalties in 2016

Avoid 2016 PenaltiesOctober 1 marks another important meaningful use deadline—especially if you missed the opportunity to begin on July 1 and avoid the 1% Medicare payment adjustment in 2015. October 1 is the last day to begin meaningful use and avoid a larger penalty—a 2% adjustment in 2016.

Additionally, if you begin by October 1 and attest by February 28, 2015, you are eligible for the remaining Medicare incentive payments—up to $24,000 over the next three years based on a percentage of your Medicare Part B billings.

Continue reading

On Task with Security Risk Analysis

17317DR_MU_core9_shadowCore Measure 9

It seems like every time you turn around, there’s another large security breach. The results can be devastating for not only the business that was hacked, but their customers as well. The risk isn’t limited to retailers – it exists anywhere customer information is used, accessed, or stored. With that in mind, core measure 9 was created and included in meaningful use.  As evidence of the gravitas of this goal, there are no exclusions to this measure.

We all know how important it is to protect electronic health information, and the utmost care must be exercised to protect patients’ medical records.

Defined and Deciphered
Core measure 9 seems like a simple concept, but can be deceptively complex. The goal is to protect patients’ electronic health information that was created or is maintained by certified EHR through the implementation of appropriate technical capabilities.

Per CMS, the provider must:

“…conduct or review a security risk analysis in accordance with the requirements under 45 CFR 164.308(a) (1), including addressing the encryption/security of data stored in CEHRT in accordance with requirements under 45 CFR 164.312 (a)(2)(iv) and 45 CFR 164.306(d)(3), and implement security updates as necessary and correct identified security deficiencies as part of the provider’s risk management process for EPs.”

Huh? Exactly!

It seems daunting to decipher what the requirements are, much less figure out how to actually accomplish the task.  Essentially, you’re required to perform a security risk analysis to ensure that your patients’ medical records are secure, and to minimize the risk of a security breach.

The Challenge
Part of the challenge to this measure is the broad nature of the measure itself. Fulfilling the measure doesn’t rely on a simple security feature that can be enabled or disabled. Rather, practices must conduct—at least annually—a comprehensive security risk analysis in accordance with the requirements under HIPAA, and correct all identified security deficiencies.  There is a full list of security criteria that must be met and/or corrected, however, a simple checklist will not satisfy the requirements. Each of the criteria must be sufficiently documented, so that in the event of an audit, you will pass. Also, there are no exclusions allowed for this measure, and since it’s not a percentage based measure, there is no CMS reporting window to track your progress.

Success Can Be Yours
Core measure 9 is essentially the same as core measure 15 from Stage 1. If you’ve already succeeded at this measure in Stage 1, you’re well on your way to success in Stage 2. Unfortunately, because of the broad nature of the measure, it’s also one of the more difficult challenges to master. This is not a measure that can be conquered simply with your EHR system. Still, this is a measure that is attainable. Given the complexities, and myriad of factors to consider, we will take on the required tasks in Part 2 of “On Task with Security Risk Analysis.” Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you have questions or need help with meaningful use, contact us at meaningfuluse@eyefinity.com.

Did you enjoy reading this blog article? Receive an update for each new post by clicking on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner.

Catch a Break – Hardship Exceptions to Meaningful Use

Meaningful_Use_sticknoteAre you a Medicare provider who has yet to participate in meaningful use? If so, an important deadline is approaching quickly. July 1 is the deadline to begin meaningful use Stage 1 to attest before Medicare payment adjustments take place in 2015. That’s right, you must have installed a 2014 Edition certified EHR, begin your three-month reporting period on July 1, and attest on October 1 to avoid the 1% penalty.

If you’re in your second year of Stage 1 or beginning Stage 2 in 2014, you have two opportunities to begin your reporting period: July 1 and October 1.

Are you afraid you’re not going to make it?

Not to worry. The CMS recognizes that there are valid reasons that render an undue hardship or eliminate feasibility for a practice to participate. Those valid reasons will prevent payment adjustments for a year. Exceptions are segmented into six categories:

  • Infrastructure – EPs practicing in an area where internet access is not available or feasible to attain
  • New EPs – EPs who began their practice without sufficient time to begin meaningful use and attest before 2015
  • Unforeseen Circumstances – In the event of a natural disaster or other unforeseeable event
  • Patient Interaction - EPs who do not have face-to-face or telemedicine interaction with patients, or who do not need to follow-up with their patients
  • Multiple Locations – Applies when it causes the EP to lose control over the availability of certified EHR for more than 50% of patient encounters
  • Vendor Issues – EPs whose EHR vendor has been unable to attain 2014 ONC certification for their EHR*

Still not sure if you qualify for the hardship exception? Use the CMS online tool to determine if you qualify. Don’t sit back just yet. You must file for an exception by July 1, 2014, to avoid penalties in 2015. Exceptions are valid for one year and then must be renewed.

If your hardship exception is approved you’ll skip your current year of meaningful use and advance to the next year when you resume. For example, if you were scheduled to demonstrate your second year of Stage 1 in 2014, you would skip to your first year of Stage 2 in 2015.

While some providers may file a hardship exception to postpone their meaningful use adoption and see if a recent CMS proposal will allow them attest, there is no guarantee your exception will be approved. Our 2014 Edition certified products are ready and available now to help you meet your meaningful use requirements.

For more information and specific details about the hardship exception, view the CMS document outlining meaningful use timelines and exceptions. And of course, if you have any questions about meaningful use, contact us at meaningfuluse@eyefinity.com.

 

* While 717 EHR vendors offered certified products for the 2011 Edition of meaningful use, only 151 offer certified products for the 2014 Edition. Eyefinity’s EHR solutions are currently certified to meet the ONC 2014 Edition criteria and support both Stage 1 and 2 meaningful use. [Source: Certified Health IT Product List, accessed June 24, 2014, comparing 2011 to 2014 complete ambulatory EHRs]

The Core of the Matter

Core Measure 7 BadgePatient Electronic Access

How has your meaningful use experience been so far? Hopefully you’ve been breezing through it, but even so, you probably still have questions and would benefit from some interpretation along the way.

Recently, we tackled Core Measure 17 (CM17), voted the most challenging measure for eye care providers (ECPs)*, so let’s address Core Measure 7 (CM7), which relates closely to CM17.

Requirements of CM7
Core measure 7 consists of two measures, both of which must be achieved and are direct functions of the patient portal. The first requires that online access be provided to over 50% of all unique patients seen during the demonstration period. The second requires that over 5% of all unique patients during that same demonstration period view, download, or transmit their health information to another provider or any other 3rd party.

What it means to you
If you’re using a complete EHR solution, meeting the first requirement of CM7 shouldn’t be difficult. However, some providers may find it a little tougher to meet the second requirement. Like CM17, the challenge lies with the fact that it’s out of your hands – you are depending on the actions of others to fulfill this requirement. The challenge grows if you have patients who are less technologically inclined, or if you’re in a rural area where internet connectivity may be less common.

Conquering the Challenge
CM7 is achievable, even though it’s based on the actions of others. The easier it is for your patients, and the more benefit they receive, the more likely they are to appreciate and embrace the opportunity to access their health information. Here are some examples that might help you:

  • Make sure you have the correct email address for your patient. You can take care of this when the patient checks in for their appointment.
  • Remind your patients that they can view their health records and test results, as well as communicate directly with you electronically.
  • Print a reminder on the back of your appointment cards, with instructions on how to log in and create an account.
  • Set up a desktop or laptop computer in your waiting room, and designate one of your staff to assist patients with establishing their account and accessing their records.

Remember, by starting early – even before your demonstration period – you’ll have momentum on your side and be well on the way to fulfilling this core measure. Check your progress regularly to assure that you’re on track for success. Be sure you’re using not only a complete EHR solution, but one that provides a meaningful use calculator to help you gauge your progress. This core measure, more than any other, empowers patients to stay informed and be involved in their own healthcare. Next stop, success!

Check back here frequently for help with more of the MU2 core measures. And if you have any questions, contact us at MeaningfulUse@eyefinity.com or visit us online at eyefinity.com/mu2.

 

*Voted by us

Enhancing the Patient Experience – Is EHR Really Necessary?

Steve Baker, President, Eyefinity

Steve Baker, President, Eyefinity

There’s a lot of noise and disagreement about electronic health records (EHR) right now. For some it may seem like there is no end in sight. For others, this is not as big a deal as some are making it out to be.

 
Read the four key things that a certified EHR can help you do to improve your business and enhance patient care.

Read full article republished with permission from Western Pennsylvania Healthcare News.

Three Things About Meaningful Use That Will Affect Your Practice

Steve Baker, President, Eyefinity

Steve Baker, President, Eyefinity

Do you know the three conditions that will make a difference on how meaningful use benefits your practice and your patients? Read more in this article by Steve Baker, president of Eyefinity.

Meaningful Use Delays Proposed

2014 CalendarCMS proposed changes to meaningful use program.

Still have concerns about your ability to meet the requirements to attest for meaningful use? The CMS has stepped in with a proposal to give health care providers a little more time. But before you start the celebration, remember this is simply a proposed change, and if approved, will not be in effect until August at the earliest.

How this change affects you.

CMS has proposed a change that affects the software system you are required to use in 2014, which in turn affects 2014 attestations. If passed:

  • 2011 CEHRT certified products will still be valid for meaningful use attestation in 2014.
  • You may postpone updating your software system to an ONC 2014 certified product for three months, or August 2014 at the earliest.
  • If you were on track to begin Stage 2 in 2014, you may continue to demonstrate Stage 1 criteria until 2015. You may use 2011 CEHRT software in 2014 as long as it is updated to the 2013 Stage 1 objectives and measures.
  • You may begin attestation for Stage 2 in 2015, which will require an ONC 2014 certified product.

Remember, if passed the delay will not be indefinite. There will come a time when Stage 2 criteria will be required to attest using an ONC 2014 Edition certified product. View the official document.

OfficeMate/ExamWRITER V11.1 is fully certified to meet all meaningful use requirements for Stage 1 or Stage 2 attestation. Learn more about OfficeMate/ExamWRITER, or to upgrade your OfficeMate/ExamWRITER to the most current version, visit MyInstallCenter.

Still have questions? Eyefinity is tracking meaningful use news closely and will keep you informed as developments occur. If you have any questions, contact us at MeaningfulUse@eyefinity.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers