Attesting for meaningful use under both stage 1 and stage 2 criteria, and working within Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive programs, is a large step for private practices, medical groups, hospitals and clinics large and small.
The 2014 fiscal year was the first point hospitals, privately-owned practices and eligible professionals (EP) could qualify for meaningful use incentives under stage 2. While only 90 days of EHR reporting was qualified in 2014, 2015 incentive payments (and those beyond 2015) will only be granted to medical professionals and organizations with year-round, certified EHR reporting.
All practices attesting under meaningful use stage 2 in 2014 and 2015 must use systems certified in 2014; if your current EHR systems were last certified in 2011, you must update your EHR technology before attesting. Advancing your practice to stage 2 meaningful use requires meeting stage 1 criteria needs, as well as integrating your practice with CMS certified technology.
Don’t let approaching meaningful use stage 2 deadlines be a cause for panic; in this blog article, we break down three of the largest misconceptions of meaningful use stage 2, as well as what you need to do to prepare for the transition.
1. “Stage 2 Criteria and Objectives are the Same for Doctors and Hospitals”
Whether you are a private doctor, run a small practice or work with a hospital/critical-access hospital (CAH), there are specific criteria for meeting MU stage 2; however, these criteria vary between practices and eligible professionals.
For EPs, these criteria are in the form of core objectives and menu objectives. To meet meaningful use stage 2 criteria, private doctors must meet at least 17 core objectives listed by the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services) and at least 3 of 6 menu objectives.
The CMS’s core objectives concern EHR reporting and medical information sharing, and include criteria for (but not limited to):
- Secure electronic messaging
- Demographic information
- Computerized provider order entry (CPOE)
- Clinical summaries
- Lab-test results
- Patient-specific education resources
- Patient lists
- Medical reconciliation
Similarly, EPs looking for MU stage 2 eligibility must meet at least 3 of 6 menu objectives put forth by the CMS. These objectives are:
- “Capability to submit electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies except where prohibited, and in accordance with applicable law and practice.”
- “Record electronic notes in patient records.”
- “Imaging results consisting of the image itself and any explanation or other accompanying information are accessible through CEHRT.”
- “Record patient family health history as structured data.”
- “Capability to identify and report cancer cases to a public health central cancer registry, except where prohibited, and in accordance with applicable law and practice.”
- “Capability to identify and report specific cases to a specialized registry (other than a cancer registry), except where prohibited, and in accordance with applicable law and practice.”
The above menu objectives are taken directly from the CMS’s Stage 2 Meaningful Use Core and Menu Measures Table of Contents, tailored for eligible professionals.
2. “There is No Reason to Attest for Stage 2 If I Have for Stage 1”
If you currently meet meaningful use stage 1 criteria or have certified EHR reporting, and do not see the need for attesting under stage 2, you only serve to hurt your own practice. Beyond incentive payments you would be eligible for when attesting, the CMS has stated that meaningful use does not end with stages 1 or 2, and that financial penalties and adjustments will begin in 2015.
Meaningful use in 2015 is more than an incentive program. Eligible professionals, practices, hospitals and CAHs that do not attest for MU stage 2 can expect to see up to 2% in Medicare payment reductions, and other incentive adjustments that will progressively begin in 2015.
Even if you currently qualify, and are enrolled in, EHR incentive programs such as meaningful use stage 1, these programs are not end-all, be-all EHR solutions. To get full incentive payments, EPs and practices alike must attest to new stages of meaningful use as they are developed (stage 2 in 2014/2015, stage 3 in 2016/2017).
Note that, to be eligible for the next stage of meaningful use (such as in a transition from stage 1 to stage 2, or later, stage 2 to stage 3, you will have had to meet two years of the previous meaningful use criteria.
If you enrolled in stage 1 in 2013, you must wait until 2015 to attest for stage 2, and so forth; the one exception being those practices or EPs that attested for stage 1 in 2011, who have been eligible under stage 2 criteria since the start of 2014.
3. “Making the Transition Will be Difficult for My Practice”
Perhaps the greatest misconception of MU stage 2 and EHR incentives is over how hard the transition will be for practices, EPs and hospitals. Attesting for meaningful use stage 2 should not be cause for panic in your practice; in fact, the entire transition process is relatively simple, given the EHR resources available today.
For medical professionals eligible for MU stage 2, contacting a external medical record and billing company can simplify the transition, and ensure that you meet all core objectives and menu items required under stage 2.
To avoid the payment penalties and lost incentives of non-eligibility in 2015, contact the medical billing experts at PracticeForces today; we can take Meaningful Use Attestation off your shoulders, and ensure that you meet criteria for stage 2 in 2015.