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Great Meaningful Use and Eligible Providers Chat

Posted on April 29, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently received an email from a regular reader, Dr. Mike, who owns a single specialty ortho group. In the email Dr. Mike talks about the challenges that Eligible Providers (EPs) are facing with meaningful use stage 2. He describes the story as falling on “deaf ears” at CMS and ONC. He also offered these stats on meaningful use to illustrate his case that meaningful use is a failure:

Only 38,472 have attested to Stage 2, My guess is that only about half actually did Stage 2 as there was the Stage 1 reprieve. Even so, that is only 18% of EPs have successfully attested which is an complete failure of MU.

Then, he asked me an important question:

Someone ask CMS and ONC the tough questions please…Now what are they going to do?

In response to him, I told him that I’d been talking about the challenge that meaningful use is for doctors for quite a while. However, I also told him that most hospitals are participating in meaningful use, so “we’ll see how that plays out.” What I meant is that in the meaningful use program we now have one group (EPs) that are not doing so well with meaningful use and their hospital counterparts that are relying on the millions in EHR incentive money (not to mention avoiding the penalties).

Then I answered his important question, “I can tell you what ONC and CMS are going to do. Spin It!”

Of course, Dr. Mike is great at engaging in conversation so he offered this reply:

1. Elizabeth Myers and the rest of CMS and ONC really did try to spin every bad number and “we cannot assess the numbers yet” was a constant theme.
2. I totally agree they will continue to try to spin the numbers or ignore them as long as possible. I’m not sure why they cannot face the truth about MU.
3. The 36K that did MU 2 are the cream of the crop. I would even argue that the other 82% are the cream also as they were the early adopters and gung ho about MU. The fact that 82% of the over achieving EPs have skipped out on MU 2 is a travesty. There is NO chance ONC and CMS is going to pull in the lagging EPs.
4. If you don’t know already, I own a single specialty Ortho group and we skipped MU completely after we saw the MU 2 rules. Proposed MU 3 just help us box it up and bury it.

I have no idea why ONC and CMS cannot let go of the program, let EHR vendors actually work with EPs for all the thing we are missing from our IT (usability, safety, security, efficiency). Right now we cannot do anything to customize our workflow or improve our experience as it will potentially decertify the EHR for MU. MU sucks all the air out of the room. EHRs right now are a billing and click box for MU system with a marginal clinical system slapped on…

Its about time ONC lets the market do its thing, instead of this constant objective, measures, menu, core, numerators, denominators, attesting, auditing disaster they created.

Once EPs leave the program, they are not coming back. So this should be a big deal for ONC and CMS.

I haven’t gone in and fact checked his numbers (I’d love to hear if you have different numbers), but the emotion in his comments is something I’ve heard from many providers. In fact, I’ve heard it from many EHR vendors. They’re tired of coding their EHR software to the test and the government regulations as well. They want to do more innovative things, but the government regulations are stifling their ability to do it. Resources only go so far.

I think we’re in the early days of provider discontent with meaningful use. However, it’s starting to boil. I’ll be interested to see what happens when it boils over. I’m predicting that will happen once many of these doctors start seeing the penalties hit their pocketbooks.

Medicaid EHR Incentive Attestation with Multiple Practices – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on June 18, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.


Jessica Shenfeld, Esq. is the founding partner at The Law Office of Jessica Shenfeld, a boutique law firm that caters to physicians’ legal needs. She is also CEO of EHR Incentive Help, Inc., which helps physicians satisfy the Meaningful Use criteria and apply for the Medicare/Medicaid EHR Incentive benefits. For more information, visit www.jessicashenfeld.com.

A reader of this blog, a physician who worked throughout 2011 in one practice, dissolved her practice in November 2011, and immediately opened a new practice with a new Group NPI (National Provider Identifier) number the same month, November 2011. She now wants to qualify for the Medicaid EHR Incentive in 2012, but was told that she cannot do so using data from 2011 because the new practice only has two qualifying months in 2011 (November and December) and the first practice’s data is mute because it was dissolved. The issues boil down to two questions:
1) Can a closed practice’s data be used during Attestation or is the date mute?
2) Can an individual physician use patients from two different practices to satisfy the Medicaid Patient Volume requirement?

The technical answer to the first question is not straightforward – it depends on what your state says. While Medicaid is a federal program, each state is responsible for administering it and each state makes its own rules for eligibility that vary slightly. The threshold issue here is whether the applicant qualifies an Eligible Professional (“EP). Once the applicant is accepted as an EP, the state has vetted his/her eligibility and that EP’s patient data from the last calendar year can be used during Attestation. In New York, the provider described above would qualify as an Eligible Professional since continues to accept Medicaid patients. However, the final decision as to whether an individual qualifies as an EP is up to each state to decide. EP Eligibility is determined when Registration for the EHR Incentive is submitted. I recommend e-mailing your individual state representative for that answer, or just submitting the Registration and seeing whether it is accepted. Upon Registration, the physician is notified whether he or she was deemed an EP.

The answer to the second question – whether an individual physician can use patients from two different practices to satisfy the Medicaid Patient Volume requirement – is no. A provider cannot attest using two group NPI numbers. The Medicaid Patient Volume requirement imposes a threshold of 30%, calculated using a ratio where the numerator is the total number of Medicaid patient encounters over a continuous 90-day period in the most recent calendar year and the denominator is all the patient encounters over that same 90-day period. Luckily, all is not lost. Although in this case the provider cannot attest using the group’s aggregate patient volume, she has the option of attesting using her individual provider’s patient volume. When reporting on her individual data, the 90-day period can consist of 90 days from the first practice, or 90 days that span across both practices if there was no break in time between the two practices.

One final point – even if a provider applying for the Medicaid EHR Incentive is not deemed an EP in 2012, that provider can delay Registration to as late as 2016 without incurring any reduction in the incentive payment. Conversely, applicants for the Medicare EHR Incentive payment must attest by 2013 using data from a 90-day period in 2012 in order to receive the full benefit.

MU Core Measure: Conduct a Security Risk Analysis – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on May 21, 2012 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

Perhaps because in the past, CMS has issued little guidance as to exactly what constitutes a security risk analysis for meaningful use purposes, this measure has created a great deal of confusion, and in some cases angst, among providers. Some EPs worry that this measure is so comprehensive that it requires hiring a consultant, while at the other end of the spectrum, others assume that they automatically satisfy this requirement because their EHR is certified to meet the privacy and security standards specified by ONC. Neither is the case. 

Core Meaningful Use Measure: Protect Electronic Health Information

Conduct or review a security risk analysis in accordance with the requirements under 45 CFR 164.308(a)(1) and implement security updates as necessary and correct identified security deficiencies prior to or during the reporting period. 

According to CMS, this measure is not designed to introduce new security requirements above and beyond what is required for a practice to be HIPAA compliant—the HIPAA security rule already demands a security analysis and remediation. However, this does not mean that EPs should just attest “Yes” without being able to back up their attestation with documentation of the process that was undertaken and the steps take to address deficiencies. 

To help clarify this for providers, ONC recently published the “Guide to Privacy and Security of Health Information,” which contains two chapters that specifically address meaningful use. It’s definitely worth a read!