Closing Out 2012 Meaningful Use

MSMU VerticalAs 2012 comes to a close, many of you, who are participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, are going to be attesting to meaningful use for the first time. While attesting or reporting your meaningful use might seem like a daunting and nerve-wracking process, it only seems that way because it’s a new experience.

Here are some things to keep in mind and links to additional resources where you can find complete information about meaningful use, attestation, and the EHR Incentive Programs.

Attesting on Time

You must attest to meaningful use after your reporting period, and not during your reporting period. If your attestation period continues through December 31, you may then complete your attestation beginning January 1. For the Medicare EHR Incentive Program you must complete your attestation by February 28, 2013. If you are participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, check with your state’s Medicaid for applicable deadlines.

Even if you can’t officially attest until January 1, you will want to perform steps 1 and 2 below to head off any potential shortcomings.

Navigating the Attestation System

Each doctor must attest individually, you cannot attest as a practice. Follow these steps to ensure your attestation goes smoothly:

  1. In ExamWRITER, click the Reports menu and run the CMS Meaningful Use Reporting and CMS Quality Reporting. For complete instructions, press F1 for help.
    – The meaningful use report lists only those measures that require percentages. The unlisted measures require a simple yes or no answer.
    – If your percentages are low in some of the menu measures, don’t fret. You only need to report on 5 out of the 10 menu set measures, provided one of them is menu 9 or 10.
    – Many of the measures may be satisfied by claiming an allowable exclusion.
    – The clinical quality measures may show low percentages. That’s okay. They don’t have minimum thresholds.
  2. Practice your attestation using CMS’ Meaningful Use Attestation Calculator.
    – If your numbers are low review the “Achieving Meaningful Use with OfficeMate/ExamWRITER” or “Tracking CMS Quality Measures in ExamWRITER” documents, which can be found on our Meaningful Use Starter Kit page. If your attestation period has not ended, there may still be time to correct some shortcomings.
    – If didn’t realize that you were short in a measure until after 2012 was over, look for allowable exclusions. If no exclusion applies to you, it is too late to correct any shortcomings.
  3. Attest to your meaningful use through the Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Registration and Attestation System.
    – Use the Attestation User Guide for Eligible Professionals for visual, step-by-step instructions.
    – Attestation is self-reported. You do not need to furnish documentation when you attest. Documentation may be required later (see “Surviving an Audit,” below).
    – If you are asked for your EHR Certification Number, refer to this knowledge base article.

Surviving an Audit

Since the EHR incentive programs are government-funded initiatives, audits are an important part of abating fraud and waste in the program. CMS will not release specific information about the nature of the audits, but they have posted some general guidelines on their Frequently Asked Questions page. While OfficeMate/ExamWRITER users have nothing to fear from these audits, we encourage you to save a printed or electronic copy of your meaningful use calculations and any communications that you have had regarding meaningful use. For example, you’ll want to save copies of the following:

  • Meaningful use report calculations
  • Clinical quality report calculations
  • Email showing that you transmitted a CCR to a colleague (core 14)
  • Checklist or documentation from your security audit (core 15)
  • A full screenshot of OfficeMate or ExamWRITER with the About window open (showing the date and the practice license information)
  • Any other documents or communications you have regarding meaningful use

Getting Paid

In theory, you can expect to see your check between six to eight weeks after attesting to meaningful use.

In reality, there are a number of factors that could delay your payment:

  • If you have not yet reached $24,000 in Medicare Part B billings, your payment will be held until you do. Your incentive payment for 2012 is based on 75% of your Part B billings up to a ceiling of $24,000, making the maximum payment $18,000.
  • If you do not bill $24,000 in Medicare Part B billings in 2012, your payment will be sent six to eight weeks after the final day to bill for 2012, which is February 28. So, you won’t see your check until April.
  • If you participated in a state Medicaid incentive program, the payment timeframe varies drastically.

Payments are made on a per-provider basis, and not per practice. Payments are based on a percentage of your allowable Medicare Part B billings. Even if your practice bills under one NPI, the incentive is determined by the rendering provider’s NPI on the CMS 1500.

Continuing Meaningful Use

For 2013, you will once again attest to stage 1, but for the entire calendar year.

For 2014, you will attest to 90 days of stage 2 meaningful use (we’ll be communicating with you about that throughout 2013 and 2014).

Planning to Qualify for a 2012 Federal Incentive Payment?

You must begin 90 days of meaningful use by October 3, 2012! Follow this step-by-step checklist to ensure you’re on track.

Upgrade

Visit myinstallcenter.officemate.net to upgrade to OfficeMate/ExamWRITER® v10, the certified, complete EHR system.

Upgrade as soon as possible to ensure you’re up and running well before the October 3, 2012, deadline to start demonstrating meaningful use.

Review the Hardware & System Requirements to ensure you meet or exceed the minimum hardware and system.

If your hardware doesn’t meet software requirements, contact trusted OfficeMate Certified Partners, North Shore Computer or Think Smart to assist.

Register

Register on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) website by October 3, so you’re ready to demonstrate meaningful use.

Train

Visit the Meaningful Use Resource Center for intuitive resources to quickly get you up and running with v10, and help you understand how to achieve meaningful use.

Don’t miss our Ask the Expert session on meaningful use this Thursday, September 27. Submit your meaningful use questions and listen to what other people are asking. Register now!

Fulfill

Fulfill the mandatory 90 days of meaningful use (October–December 2012).

Use the Meaningful Use Reporting Calculator in ExamWRITER, under the Reports menu, for real-time calculations, and to measure and obtain feedback on your progress.

Collect

Check the Attestation User Guide on the CMS website for the complete attestation process.

Be one of thousands of ODs in the country to qualify and receive your stimulus payment—by using the industry leading EHR system.

#1 for Most ECPs Receiving EHR Incentive Payments

Qualify for EHR incentive money by October 3More than 1,300 eyecare providers (ECPs) have demonstrated meaningful use and collected thousands of dollars in EHR incentive payments—with OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10, the certified, complete EHR.  That’s almost half of all eyecare professionals who have received payments to date!

Eyefinity is proud to provide the industry’s leading product that has helped the most ECPs receive incentive payments.

See how OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 helped these two doctors fulfill meaningful use and secure incentive payments.

Amanda Schmidt, OD, Northwest Optometry Associates, Fresno, California

“I wanted software that would seamlessly integrate our back office with front office billing. I also wanted to be sure that the software company I selected would be around for awhile. It was satisfying to know that Eyefinity was a stable, well-established company with reliable technical support. The most challenging part was understanding what meaningful use was. But the Eyefinity meaningful use resources did an excellent job explaining it. I’m just one doctor with one office, and I received more stimulus money than I thought I would!”

James Hertzog, OD, Hertzog Family Eye Care, Cabot, Arkansas

When asked what he considered most important when selecting a certified EHR system, Dr. Hertzog required “ease of use, cost, and a comprehensive product.” OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 topped the list.

“The Meaningful Use Report in ExamWRITER is helpful in reminding me what information needs to be collected to demonstrate meaningful use. If you haven’t upgraded to a certified EHR and fulfilled meaningful use, do it now. It’s easy and the longer you wait, there will be less stimulus funds available to offset any costs to implement EHR.”

Find out how you can qualify for incentive payments using OfficeMate/ExamWRITER. The last day to begin meaningful use if October 3.

There’s Still Time to Reach Your Full Potential

James Kirchner, OD

2012 is a very important year from an EHR meaningful use incentive perspective. A year that should not be ignored if you have plans to move into a certified EHR system and get the most incentive money possible from Uncle Sam. Under the HITECH act, 2012 is that last chance to get the full $44,000 under the Medicare meaningful use program. Here’s how it works.

The HITECH incentive plan began January 1, 2011. On that date, CMS began the meaningful use program under the first of three stages. In Stage 1, which is the easiest of the three stages, an eligible provider (both optometrists and ophthalmologists are EPs in the Medicare program) can fulfill meaningful use for 90 days in their first year. If that is accomplished in either 2011 or 2012, an eyecare professional is qualified to receive a potential $44,000 (depending on your annual Medicare Part B allowable billings) over the length of the incentive program, with the first year check of $18,000.

If for whatever reason, you fail to get your first year accomplished in 2012, you will automatically lose $5,000 in potential incentive money. Realize this means that you must start your 90 days of meaningful use no later than October 1, 2012. If you miss that date, you have missed fulfillment in 2012 and must wait for 2013.

Another HITECH bonus for getting it done in 2012 is that CMS has just announced that Stage II meaningful use will not begin until 2014 rather than 2013. That means you will have two years to fulfill meaningful use under the easier Stage I. For those of you who were successful in 2011, you have three years of fulfillment under Stage I.

There is no reason to wait. At Eyefinity, we have our certified suite of OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 ready for you. In fact we already have thousands of offices using the certified version and we are proud to say that in 2011 nearly 1,000 of our customers fulfilled meaningful use, almost twice as many as our competitors. We have a full training program and a powerful meaningful use knowledge base on our website at eyefinity.com.

So don’t wait any longer. Do yourself and your practice a favor by moving into the modern world of EHR. You will never regret the move and your pocketbook will be the proof. Don’t run the risk of someday looking back and saying, “if only I had…”

- James K. Kirchner, OD
Chief Professional Officer, Eyefinity

Attesting to Meaningful Use: Getting Paid to Improve Patient Care

Today’s entry comes from Robert Bass, OD, FAAO

CMS, the HITECH Act, meaningful use? Oh, no!! Improved patient care and stimulus money? Oh, yes!! How to get it done painlessly? OfficeMate and ExamWRITER!!

Dr. Robert Bass

Dr. Bass recently implemented OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 as his certified EHR and has already qualified for stimulus money.

For me, the HITECH Act was initially difficult to understand, especially all of the requirements for meeting meaningful use (MU). OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 made it easy for me to comply with the requirements and document the necessary information. CMS warns that it may take a doctor 10–20 hours to complete the attestation, but I was able to complete it in less than 45 minutes and was successful in my attesting to meaningful use within the first quarter of the reporting year. The OfficeMate/ExamWRITER software was integral in my successful and prompt attestation.

My practice began using OfficeMate/ExamWRITER a little over a year ago and upgraded to the certified v10 on January 3, 2011. Implementing a certified electronic health record (EHR) for meaningful use has raised the level of attention to detail of my staff and myself because we now have to document specific criteria for every patient. This enforces a consistently high level of care from one patient to the next. We have noticed better recordkeeping in such areas as patient demographics, correspondence, and referring doctors. All of these improvements took shape without our having to drastically change how we use OfficeMate and ExamWRITER.

I am looking forward to receiving my incentive check for my compliance, but even more so, I am looking forward to continuing to provide the utmost care for my patients.

I urge all optometrists to implement an EHR, and I recommend that you start now. Each year of the HITECH Act builds on the next, and the incentive payments are reduced each year. In 2011, you can be eligible to receive incentive payments after 90 days of using a certified EHR in a meaningful manner. In the coming years, the attestation period will be longer, and the payments will be smaller. Act today while the rewards are at their highest.

Dr. Bass is a proud alumnus from the College of William and Mary, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He graduated with honors from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1986, Dr. Bass became a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry. Dr. Bass practices optometry in Manassas, Virginia, where ha has practiced for thirty years. An accomplished professional, Dr. Bass is also an avid fisherman and a dedicated family man.

Attesting to Meaningful Use: Another Success Story

Today’s entry comes from Ryan Wineinger, OD.

Dr. Ryan Wineinger

Dr. Wineinger has leveraged OfficeMate/ExamWRITER to fulfill meaningful use.

Many optometrists don’t want to look at or think about meaningful use (MU) because they doubt that they will be included in the HITECH Act or eligible for stimulus money. Well, I can now say that, as an optometrist, I have successfully attested to using a certified electronic health record in a meaningful manner. I am now eligible for the funds allotted in Year 1, Stage 1 of the HITECH Act.

My practice started using OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 the day after returning from the New Year’s holiday. In fact, I registered for the EHR incentive program on the first day that we were allowed to apply.

Our practice has used OfficeMate/ExamWRITER for the last seven years. Since we’ve been using the programs for so long, I thought that I’d be able to breeze through meaningful use. I can now honestly say it takes some time to study and understand the requirements for meeting all of the necessary measures. Once I spent a few hours studying all of the incentive program information on the CMS Web site and Eyefinity’s Meaningful Use Starter Kit, I was confident that I would know how to meet each measure.

ExamWRITER is designed in such a way that I didn’t need to document my eye examinations much differently than I did before the incentive program. There are areas of the software where I had to document items in a different place, because fields were added or moved, but I didn’t necessarily need to change what I was doing.

A critical feature in OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 is the MU Report Card, which helps you gauge your meaningful use. Initially, I looked at the report several times a day to ensure that I was getting credit for each measure. After the second week, I looked at the report card report only weekly to ensure that I was on pace to meet MU requirements at the end of my 90-day reporting period.

Finally, on April 18th, CMS allowed us to attest to the fact that we had indeed met the meaningful use requirements. I plugged in my numbers from my report card into the Meaningful Use Attestation Calculator to ensure I was eligible to qualify. After verifying our numbers, I logged into the attestation site, entered my information, and after roughly 30 minutes, I successfully completed the attestation process!

Now I have reached the hardest part of the process—waiting for my incentive money! Based on the calculations used for the HITECH Act, we will meet the maximum billable amount sometime this summer, and once we do that, we will receive our incentive money.

I encourage every optometrist out there to start using an EMR. I feel that it gives me more information at my fingertips and allows me to provide more thorough care for my patients. The government believes this, too, and that is why they allowed optometrists to participate in the HITECH Act. I’m happy to say that OfficeMate/ExamWRITER gave me the appropriate tools to participate in the meaningful use incentive program.

Dr. Ryan Wineinger received his undergraduate degree from Kansas University. He then graduated from The Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. After graduation, he went into practice with his father at Wineinger Eyecare. Dr. Wineinger thoroughly enjoys the technological side of optometry and has made concentrated efforts to bring in the latest equipment to ensure that his patients are receiving the highest level of comprehensive care possible in regards to their eyesight. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and the Greater Kansas City Optometric Society.

Attesting to Meaningful Use: A Success Story

Today’s entry comes from Lorie Lippiatt, OD.

Dr. Lorie Lippiatt

Dr. Lorie Lippiatt has attested to meaningful use with the help of OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10.

To some, coming back to work after the New Year’s Day always feels like a quiet, somber return to reality after the fun festivities of the holidays. But at my practice, it was an exciting return from Christmas break. The office was abuzz because we were going live with our certified software!

We implemented OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 on January 3, 2011, which was the first day we were eligible to demonstrate meaningful use (MU), and began our 90-day attestation period. After registering on the CMS Web site, we were ready to go!

Although we have used OfficeMate/ExamWRITER for many years, the first couple of weeks were a learning experience for my staff and me. Due to the requirements of the MU objectives, we needed to make a point of more carefully documenting our interactions with the patients in OfficeMate and ExamWRITER to ensure that we were meeting the MU Objectives. Thankfully, the fields were clearly identified throughout the program, which made the process easy and straightforward.

Initially, we ran the MU reports in the software daily. We did this to ensure that everyone on staff was participating fully and to spot any critical areas where our documentation was not meeting the MU objectives. Once we identified and resolved any potential weaknesses and felt confident in our understanding and implementation of the MU criteria, we ran our reports weekly, and then monthly. In the meantime, our quality of patient care was improving!

When the 90-day period ended, and CMS announced we could attest on April 18th, we were ready! In preparing to attest to meaningful use, I took a pretest that CMS offered online to verify our readiness and determine if our reporting would be accepted. It was! So, on April 18, 2011, I logged in to the attestation site, and, using the numerical values provided to me through reporting built into OfficeMate, I successfully attested to meaningful use for 2011 in about 30 minutes.

We should be receiving our check sometime before June this year. I plan to reinvest in my practice with the incentive money, and to incentivize my staff with a bonus for their help in participating in the process!

Dr. Lorie Lippiatt is a 1988 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Optometry; she founded the Salem Eyecare Center, Inc., in 1989. Today, the center is a 5,500-square-foot facility that encompasses a complete children’s vision center.

Understanding Meaningful Use Objectives, Part 2

A message from James Kirchner, OD, Chief Professional Officer for Eyefinity/OfficeMate:

Dr. James Kirchner

In a previous article, I took you through the first six Meaningful Use (MU) objectives in the “core” group as established by the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). In this edition, I’m going to explain the remaining nine MU objectives. Remember, CMS divided the 25 meaningful use objectives into two groups: the first group of 15, called “core” objectives, and the second group of 10, called “menu” objectives. The directive from CMS is that eligible providers must complete all 15 core items and at least five of the 10 menu items, for a total of 20, to meet MU requirements. As I’ve mentioned before, there are exclusions available to the eligible provider, allowing noncompletion of an objective, yet fulfilling MU. I will address these exclusions in a future Trends and Tactics.

If you missed the first six from the last article, you can still read it on our blog. Remember, for all of these easy-to-accomplish MU objectives, OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 will provide the necessary tools that allow you to fulfill the requirements.

Here are the remaining nine core objectives:

1.     CPOE (Computer Physician Order Entry) for medication orders
More than 30% of unique patients, with at least one medication in their medication list as
seen by the EP, must have at least one medication ordered using CPOE.

2.     Implement drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checks.
The EP has enabled this functionality for the entire EHR reporting period.

3.     Implement one clinical decision support rule and the ability to track compliance
with the rule.

OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 will give you this ability.

4.     Report clinical quality measures to CMS or the state.
Extension of PQRI reporting using OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10

5.     Protect electronic health information created or maintained by the certified EHR technology through the implementation of appropriate technical capabilities.
OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 will provide this functionality.

6.     Generate and transmit permissible prescriptions electronically (eRx).
More than 40% of all permissible prescriptions written by the EP are transmitted
electronically using certified EHR technology.

7.     Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information (including diagnostic test results, problem list, medication lists, medication allergies, discharge summary, procedures), upon request.
More than 50% of all unique patients of the EP who request an electronic copy of their
health information are provided it within three business days.

8.     Provide clinical summaries for patients for each office visit.
Clinical summaries provided to patients for more than 50% of all office visits within three
business days

9.     Capability to exchange key clinical information electronically (for example, problem list, medication list, medication allergies, diagnostic test results) among providers of care and patient authorized entities
Performed at least one test

Now you have seen all 15 core objectives that provide meaningful use. In my next article, we’ll look at the 10 menu objectives. Remember, your certified EHR must provide you with the tools to easily fulfill the objectives. OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 is certified and will give you those tools. We want to enable you to qualify for the funds associated with meaningful use and help you provide the best care to your patients. The time to register for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program is now, even if you don’t have your certified EMR in place. We encourage you to register now.

Understanding Meaningful Use

A message from James Kirchner, OD, Chief Professional Officer for Eyefinity/OfficeMate:

In my last post, I challenged each of you to begin the process of utilizing electronic medical records (EMR). I want to reinforce that call to action; you need to adopt a certified EMR, like ExamWRITER, now. The government wants you to use EMR, not in a superficial manner, but in a meaningful way. That desire is the basis for the incentive payments that will be available to all eligible providers.

Meaningful use is the foundation for the entire government incentive payment initiative, yet this concept seems vague and confusing. It’s like trying to drive down a foggy road without a clear view of where we are headed. It shouldn’t be this way. Meaningful use is quite simple once you understand its basic concepts. Over the next 5 years, the healthcare industry is being asked to move to a high-level use of electronic record keeping and information exchange in anticipation that it will dramatically improve the quality and efficiency of American healthcare. In order to reach this goal, the meaningful use of EMRs will progress through 3 stages over this period of time. The first stage will be over years 2011 and 2012 and, according to the Final Rule, has specific meaningful use objectives that eligible providers must satisfy to qualify for incentive pay.

The objectives (or measures) are not difficult and, if not a part of your typical workflow, can be easily added. Your certified EMR will provide you with the tools to satisfy the meaningful use objectives. There are 25 meaningful use objectives, 15 that are called “core” and 10 that are named “menu”. The government is requiring that all 15 core objectives be met during your reporting period and that 5 out of 10 menu objectives be met, with your choosing the 5 that you meet. There is room for exclusion in these core and menu objectives if you cannot perform them, due to an objective being outside of your scope of license, or if you do not have any patients that would allow you to meet the objective. In these cases, you would simply identify that item as an exclusion and it would qualify as having performed the objective. However, there is a lot that is unclear about this exclusion language, and it doesn’t appear to me that it will be allowed frequently or on a recurring basis.

I feel that the easiest way to understand meaningful use is to recognize the government’s objectives in the first stage. The 3 basic criteria include use of a certified EHR:

  • In a meaningful manner including e-prescribing, data storage, and retrieval
  • For electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of healthcare
  • To submit clinical quality and other measures

The 25 meaningful use objectives fit within those 3 areas. In my next column, we will look a little deeper at examples of these objectives. It’s my desire to help you understand this whole program, to be comfortable with its demands, and to give you the tools to achieve meaningful use of your EMR. My immediate challenge to you is to begin using your EMR, or if you haven’t purchased ExamWRITER yet, do so and begin the implementation process. There is no need to wait—begin the EMR process now.

For more information: Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

Got stimulus money questions? We’ve got answers.

Many of our users submitted questions about the HITECH Act while attending our recent online panel discussion, “Stimulus Money: What Do I Need to Know?”

You can now read the questions and answers provided by the panelists by clicking here. If you missed the online panel discussion, you can still watch the recording  here.

Eyefinity/OfficeMate is 100% committed to ensuring that our software products comply with the new EHR federal government certification standards. Be sure to check back with us here on the blog for updates on these efforts. We will also be announcing more educational opportunities on this important issue to help you maximize the financial incentives available to you with a meaningful implementation of ExamWRITER electronic medical records.



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