Finding Solutions among the Meaningful Use Confusion

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Thursday, 31 July 2014 17:16

The proposed rule which delays the Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 deadline may mean more time, but there are also plenty of challenges to work through.

All providers regardless of their MU stage are only required to demonstrate meaningful use for a three-month EHR reporting period, thus the latest you can begin attesting for the Medicare program is October 1, just a few months away. The process does not have to be difficult. With the right EHR software, many of the tasks can be performed by office staff and reporting can be tracked with normal patient care.

According to CMS national statistics in June, only 10 hospitals have attested for MU 2 thus far and the rates for clinicians are equally low (only 972). Many EHR products were certified later than anticipated, which has impacted the ability of clinicians and hospitals to deploy 2014 Edition CEHRT and make the necessary patient safety, staff training, and workflow investments.

The proposed rule change by CMS allows eligible providers (EP) the option to report for either 2013 Stage 1, 2014 Stage 1, or Stage 2 objectives; depending on what they were scheduled to demonstrate. CMS and ONC also incorporated a provision into the proposed rule to formally extend Stage 2 through 2016 and begin Stage 3 in 2017
Even though one patient’s care is shared among many types of providers, MU is moving health care toward one continuum of care process.  Long term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers may not be directly incentivized to support MU, but it can be a strong, long-term business strategy.  LTPACs can support a national HIT infrastructure through incremental steps to send and receive information with EPs.  They can also electronically exchange standardized data bi-directionally between care settings, which is paramount to the continuity and quality of patient-centered care, including reduction in emergency room visits and hospital readmissions.  Hitting those goals can trigger increases in Medicaid reimbursements and ratings.

While there are still many questions, it is important to keep working on MU, so that your facility can have more time to tackle complicated issues and ensure receipt of critical Medicare/Medicaid payments.