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CMS Listens to Those Calling for a 90 Day Meaningful Use Reporting Period

Posted on January 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 think that most of us in the industry figured this was just a matter of time, but it’s nice that we were right and CMS is working to modify the requirements and reporting periods for meaningful use. I imagine they heard all the many voices that were calling for a change to meaningful use stage 2 and it’s just taken them this long to work through the government process to make it a reality.

Before I act like this change is already in place, CMS was very specific in the wording of their announcement about their “intent to modify requirements for meaningful use” and their “intent to engage in rulemaking” in order to make these “intended” changes. Basically they’re saying that they can just change the rules. They have to go through the rule making process for these changes to go into effect. That said, I don’t think anyone doubts that this will make it through the rule making process.

Here’s the modifications that they’re proposing:

  1. Shortening the 2015 reporting period to 90 days to address provider concerns about their ability to fully deploy 2014 Edition software
  2. Realigning hospital reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other quality programs
  3. Modifying other aspects of the programs to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burden

They also added this interesting clarification and information about the meaningful use stage 3 proposed rule:

To clarify, we are working on multiple tracks right now to realign the program to reflect the progress toward program goals and be responsive to stakeholder input. Today’s announcement that we intend to pursue the changes to meaningful use beginning in 2015 through rulemaking, is separate from the forthcoming Stage 3 proposed rule that is expected to be released by early March. CMS intends to limit the scope of the Stage 3 proposed rule to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and subsequent years.

I think everyone will welcome a dramatic simplification of the meaningful use program. The above 3 changes will be welcome by everyone I know.

In the email announcement for this, they provided an explanation for why they’re doing these changes:

These proposed changes reflect the Department of Health and Human Services’ commitment to creating a health information technology infrastructure that:

  • Elevates patient-centered care
  • Improves health outcomes
  • Supports the providers who care for patients

Personally, I think they saw the writing on the wall and it wasn’t pretty. Many organizations were going to opt out of meaningful use stage 2. These changes were needed and necessary for many organizations to continue participating in meaningful use. They believe meaningful use will elevate patient-centered care, improve health outcomes, and support the providers who care for patients. I’m glad they finally chose to start the rulemaking process to make the changes. I think many that started meaningful use can still benefit from the rest of the incentive money and will be even happier to avoid the penalties.

Comments Submitted on Stage 2: Is the Bar Being Raised Too High? – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on May 7, 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.

The 60-day comment period on the Proposed Rule for Stage 2 Meaningful Use ends today. If the length and depth of the comments published so far are any indication, CMS will have a lot of reading and thinking to do between now and August, when the Final Rule is expected. 

The tone of the comments is somewhat consistent—general support for the direction and spirit of the rule, but concern that the bar is being raised too high, too quickly. One fear is that if providers perceive the requirements to be unachievable or impractical, they could be discouraged from even trying to meet them.  

These are some of the common themes that are already emerging:

  • Although MU Stage 2 was postponed to 2014, the timing is still very challenging. Several groups have already recommended a 90-day reporting period for the first year of MU Stage 2, which would provide for a phasing-in of the increased requirements, similar to MU Stage 1.
  • Meaningful Use Stage 2 is considerably more complex than Meaningful Use Stage 1, with the introduction of new measures and the addition of sub-components to Stage 1 measures. Many would require physicians and staff to implement new and more complex workflows.
  • The core and menu structure continues, but the menu options are fewer and would leave many providers with no real choices since several of the menu measures would not apply to their practices.
  • While increased patient engagement is recognized as an important goal, providers are expressing concern about having their incentives be dependent on actions by patients—actions over which they have no real control. For example, one proposed measure would require that 10% of patients access their information on the physician’s portal, and another that 10% of patients send a secure e-mail message to their physician.
  • Some measures could have significant cost implications for physicians—for example, there are often costs associated with developing the interfaces necessary to send data to registries and/or HIEs.
  • Clinical quality measure reporting, described in one set of comments as “daunting,” is eliciting detailed comments. Developing a reasonable set of requirements that are harmonized with other government programs will require a great deal of work. 

More to come, as more comments become publicly available.

How Critical is the October 1, 2011 Deadline? – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on September 12, 2011 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.

As October approaches, providers who want to apply for the 2011 EHR incentive—and their vendors—are scrambling to implement in time to allow for the 90-day reporting period. An EMR and HIPAA reader submitted the following question: 

Under the EHR Incentive program, in order to receive payment for 2011, the 90- day reporting period must begin no later than 1 October 2011 [Technical point: October 3 is the actual deadline]. Does this mean that the ONC Certified EHR must be in place and operational at that time or can it be installed after 1 October 2011 as long as the pertinent patient data is entered into the EHR once it is installed?

 The EHR must be in use during the entire 90-day period. Data must be reported for the entire 90 days; some measures require something to “be enabled” for the entire period, (e.g., a clinical decision support rule, drug formulary); and other measures have time frames attached, (e.g. provide a clinical summary within 3 business days), which would not be possible to accomplish retroactively. 

My suggestion is that you take the pressure off by postponing meaningful use—and the receipt of your incentive—by just 3 months. If you begin reporting on January 1 instead, you will still have the opportunity to earn the full $44,000 over the 2012-2016 period. You can attest at the end of March and expect your incentive by May. This schedule has the additional advantage of allowing you to earn a 1% ePrescribing bonus for 2011, which you would forego if you earn an EHR incentive since you cannot collect both in the same reporting period. Focus your energy this year on ePrescribing for 25 Medicare encounters and on successfully implementing your new EHR in 2012.