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 eyefinity.com.

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