Meaningful Use Registry Deadline: February 29

blog_stopwatchAn important meaningful use deadline is approaching. February 29 is the last day to register with a specialized registry and fulfill the public health objective for meaningful use in 2016. Eyefinity recommends the following registries:

You must register with a specialized registry by February 29 to demonstrate “active engagement” with a specialized registry in 2016. Your registration fulfills your specialized registry obligation for the year. Depending upon the scope of your practice, you may be required to register with a second registry.

Eyefinity is actively working with AOA to develop an integration between AOA MORE and ExamWRITER and Eyefinity EHR. Through this integration, you’ll be able to meet the public health objective, submit your clinical quality data, and electronically report your PQRS data. This integration will be available later this year. Continue reading

CMS Extends the Deadline for Reporting 2015 Meaningful Use

Last week, CMS pushed the deadline for attesting to meaningful use (MU) from February 29 to Friday, March 11. This extension applies only to the Medicare EHR Incentive Program for the 2015 reporting period. Eligible providers who are participating in their state’s Medicaid EHR incentive program should check with their state to determine their attestation deadline.

This 12-day extension will come as welcome relief to many providers who haven’t yet attested to their 2015 meaningful use performance. A successful MU attestation is required to avoid a 3% negative Medicare payment adjustment in 2017.

MU Attestation Resources

To help you complete your MU attestation by March 11, we’ve compiled these helpful resources:

Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS)

This MU extension does not affect the February 26 deadline for Medicare Part B claims-based PQRS reporting.

Meaningful Use Hardship Exception Requirements Announced

CMS has released the requirements for filing hardship exception applications for the 2015 reporting year. The good news is that CMS has reduced the amount of detailed information needed to complete the application. Additionally, CMS is allowing groups of providers to file a single hardship exception application. Hardship exception applications are due by March 15.

A hardship exception could exempt you from Medicare payment penalties in 2017 if you failed to achieve meaningful use in 2015 and you met one of the following circumstances:

  • Insufficient internet connectivity
  • Extreme and uncontrollable circumstances (a natural disaster, practice closure, bankruptcy, failure of your certified EHR)
  • Lack of certified EHR availability
  • Lack of face-to-face interaction or follow up

There’s no hardship exemption for not knowing about the Modified Stage 2 meaningful use changes that were published in October.

While this isn’t the blanket hardship exception that many had hoped, the application requires less information than in years past, which will make the application less burdensome. Additionally, the Modified Stage 2 requirements lowered the bar on many of the more onerous measures, which should make it easier for eligible providers (EPs) to attest to meaningful use rather than applying for a hardship exception.

If you’re able to successfully attest to meaningful use for 2015, you do not need to file a hardship exception. New EPs who began submitting Medicare claims in 2015, hospital-based EPs, and EPs in five specialties unrelated to eyecare automatically receive an exemption and don’t have to file an application.

For more information, refer to the following resources:

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 eyefinity.com.

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.

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.

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

Cloud Technology in a Flash

blog_stopwatchThe second installment in our series of posts about cloud technology. Now let’s look at speed and bandwidth.

by Eyefinity Senior Product Manager Andrew Lee

Better Use of Time
A cloud-based system can save you time, by removing hardware issues from your practice and providing readily accessible records, but what’s required?

The Need for Speed
Internet speed can be a significant factor. Before taking the leap to the cloud, ask providers about bandwidth requirements for their solutions. This is important when evaluating the cost of a practice management solution. If you’re required to subscribe to a very high-speed internet service, that’s a red flag. This could add hundreds of dollars every month, and suddenly what seemed like a low monthly cost for the practice management system, is drastically inflated.

We recommend a minimum of 3 Mbps (Megabits per second) download and 1.5 Mbps upload speeds. For optimal performance, you’ll want 3 – 6 Mbps, depending on the number of doctors and staff in your office.   Check your current speeds at www.speedtest.net.

Ask the Right Questions
Some practice management solutions require speeds up to 20 mbps, and have response times up to 30 seconds, so be sure to ask what’s required, and how fast the system will respond. A web-based system should respond within a couple of seconds, and an optimized system should average less than one second.

Up next, unlocking the secret to security in the cloud.

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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]