Changes Coming to Meaningful Use

The government program providing incentives to health providers for meaningful use of electronic health records continues to be troubled as the final rule for stage 3  has been delayed until 2018. Coupled with recent comments by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), it appears that the entire program will undergo substantive changes in the year ahead. However, CMS notes, it is important to continue under the old program until the changes start being unveiled in the spring of 2016.

When meaningful use started in 2009, the intent was to induce medical providers to use the new technology purchased with the help of the federal government. By providing incentive payments to the physicians that showed they were using the new technology in a meaningful way, the government believed it would improve quality, safety, and efficiency of care through electronic health records. However, CMS has found that the program did not operate as envisioned, resulting in the forthcoming changes to the program, expected to start in the spring of 2016.

While the new program has guiding themes that were issued by CMS, it is unclear what the new program will ultimately look like. However, many of the themes are to focus on the outcome of patient care, with less focus on the use of the new technology, in hopes that complaints by all stakeholders about the meaningful use program will be alleviated. For health providers, the pending changes will take time implement and until such time, the meaningful use program is still the operative requirements. To read more about the changes, please visit the official blog of CMS at: http://blog.cms.gov/2016/01/19/ehr-incentive-programs-where-we-go-next/

© 2015 Vandenack Williams LLC
For more information, Contact Us

Weak Passwords Put Patients’ EHR at Risk

By M. Thomas Langan II.

A recent government report criticized the current electronic health record certification process for failing to require strong passwords.  These vulnerabilities make it easier for hackers to penetrate electronic health record (“EHR”) systems and access patient records.  The report comes amid a study that many patients are reluctant to divulge their information when their physician uses EHR out of fear of their data’s security.  Despite the current lax requirements, it is recommended that all passwords be at least 8 characters long and contain 3 of the following: capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters and are changed at least monthly.

The government’s report can be found here: http://oig.hhs.gov/oas/reports/region6/61100063.asp

The study can be found here:  http://jamia.bmj.com/content/early/2014/07/24/amiajnl-2014-002804.abstract

© 2014 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

For more information, Contact Us

Meaningful Use Stage 2—New Core Objectives

Now that the Stage 2 meaningful use standards are available, health care providers should start planning to implement attestation requirements.  Providers cannot begin to attest until 2014.  However, providers should consider two factors that indicate the need to plan.  First, the requirements for both stages of attestation are now more rigorous than before, and providers will no longer be able to count exclusions toward their non-core objectives.  Second, the number of core objectives that providers must meet has significantly increased.

In particular, providers should plan to meet one of two new Stage 2 core objectives.  Eligible physicians must use secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information.  Eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals must use automatic medication tracking from order to administration using assistive technologies and an electronic medication administration record.  Providers should also keep in mind that many of the objectives that carry over from Stage 1 to Stage 2 have significantly higher thresholds.  To meet these thresholds, providers should consider the use of external audits and implementation planning to meet Stage 2 requirements in 2014.

© 2012 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

For more information, contact info@pvwlaw.com

4 Meaningful Use Tips for Physicians

The concept of meaningful use is key to earning federal electronic health records (“EHR”) incentives.  The following are four tips to keep in mind when working towards meeting meaningful use criteria:

  1. Track Progress.  Many meaningful use measures establish a threshold that must be reached.  Use “to do” lists and progress charts to track progress as needed.  Make sure that all applicable criteria are addressed with respect to each objective.  Test and re-test any changes made.  Note such changes and results of testing in your progress charts.
  2. Adapt Workflow.  Workflow changes may be necessary and desirable in order to obtain, report and share certain patient information.  Try out different workflow scenarios and determine what works best for your organization. Clinical-care summaries and transition-of-care summaries should be routine.
  3. Welcome Changes.  Develop an environment that is fully supportive of efforts to meet meaningful use criteria.  Encourage behavior that works to reach your organization’s meaningful use objectives and to obtain incentive payments.  Reward behaviors that improve patient care and advance meaningful use goals.
  4. Know Your Vendors.  Ask specific questions about what your organization needs to meet meaningful use requirements.  Do not assume that the software a vendor is trying to sell is certified by the Office of the National Coordinator – Authorized Testing and Certification Body.  Obtain independent verification

© 2012 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

For more information, contact info@pvwlaw.com

CMS Website Posts Updated EHR Incentive Program FAQs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently added to its collection of more than 100 questions about meaningful use, eligibility and other aspects of electronic health-record incentive programs.

For example, new additions to the FAQ section include a clarification of how to calculate Medicaid patient volume or needy patient volume for the Medicaid EHR incentive program.

The 45-question section on meaningful use provides information on a variety of topics, including patient-education resource requirements, specifications for quality reporting and electronic prescribing.

The CMS EHR incentive program FAQs can be viewed at:

https://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/95_FAQ.asp.

© 2011 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

  For more information, contact info@pvwlaw.com

Medicare Attestation of “Meaningful Use” Begins April 18

Physicians who believe they have met the objectives to qualify for meaningful use incentives under the Medicare Electronic Health Record (“EHR”) Incentive Program can start attesting to having met the criteria on April 18, 2011.  Although registration for meaningful use began on January 1, 2011, physicians are required to meet the meaningful use criteria for 90 consecutive days before they qualify for incentive payments. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has published a Medicare user guide and webinar to help physicians with registration and attestation.

Physicians are encouraged to register as soon as possible, even if they do not yet have a certified EHR or enrollment record in PECOS.

In Stage 1 of meaningful use, meaningful use includes both a core set and a menu set of objectives that are specific for physicians.

Eligible Professionals must complete:

  • 15 core objectives
  • 5 objectives out of 10 from menu set
  • 6 total clinical quality measures (3 core or alternate core, and 3 out of 28 from alternate set)

It is important for physicians to make sure to start their 90-day reporting period no later than October 1, 2011, in order to attest and receive a Medicare payment in 2011.

For more information, go to Medicare EHR Incentive Program User Guide and the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Webinar.

© 2011 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

  For more information, contact info@pvwlaw.com