5/21/14 Update: All the information in this article is based on the current regulations. CMS released a proposal to make modifications to the EHR Incentive Program on 5/20. The comment period on the proposal opens 5/23 and will last for 60 days. To learn more read the press release here or the proposed rule here (PDF).
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive program has significantly changed the way many medical practices operate. The adoption of EHRs has skyrocketed the last few years as physicians implemented EHRs to collect the CMS incentive and avoid upcoming penalties. CMS reports that more than 80% of eligible providers have registered for the incentive program and more than 60% have been paid under the program.
Be sure you are aware of these important items for 2014 if you are participating in the program or have interest in participating.
New requirements to meet Meaningful Use
The Stage 1 requirements have some changes in 2014. CMS released an overview of the changes which can be found here. Providers who have participated for at least 2 years already, move to Stage 2 of the program which brings a new set of requirements.
For the complete list of requirements in both stages, check out this interactive guide which has the requirements listed on page 4-5.
2014 has a 90-day reporting period for everyone, regardless of stage.
In 2014 only, all providers will be attesting for 90 days, regardless of whether they are in Stage 1 or Stage 2. This allows providers extra time to upgrade to 2014 certified technology during the year.
- Medicare eligible providers beyond their first year of meaningful use must select a three-month reporting period fixed to the quarter of the calendar year.
- Medicare eligible providers in their first year of meaningful use may select any 90-day reporting period that falls within the 2014 calendar year.
- Medicaid eligible providers can select any 90-day reporting period that falls within the 2014 calendar year regardless of what year they are in.
2014 is the last year for providers to start the program to avoid 2015 Medicare penalties.
2014 is the last year providers can start the CMS EHR Meaningful Use Incentive program to avoid Medicare penalties in 2015. Providers who are attesting for the first time, must attest by October 1, 2014 to avoid Medicare penalties. This means providers must report on 90-days of usage with the usage period starting no later than July 1. Providers who have previously attested must continue to do so each year to avoid penalties.
Hardship exemptions are available to avoid penalties.
Eligible professionals and eligible hospitals may be exempt from payment adjustments if they can show that demonstrating meaningful use would result in a significant hardship. The deadline for eligible providers to submit an application is July 1, 2014.
Reasons a provider may qualify for a hardship exemption include:
- Infrastructure. Eligible professionals must demonstrate that they are in an area without sufficient internet access or face insurmountable barriers to obtaining infrastructure (e.g., lack of broadband).
- New Providers. Newly practicing eligible professionals who would not have had time to become meaningful users can apply for a 2-year limited exception to payment adjustments.
- Unforeseen Circumstances. Examples may include a natural disaster or other unforeseeable barrier.
- Patient Interaction. Lack of face-to-face or telemedicine interaction with patient or lack of follow-up need with patients.
- Practice at Multiple Locations. Lack of control over availability of CEHRT for more than 50% of patient encounters
To learn more about the hardship exceptions and download the application click here.
Learn More Now
To learn more about the CMS EHR Incentive program, including educational materials, the link to register and attest and more details about the requirements please visit http://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/
If you would like to learn more about how Care360 EHR can help in your practice, call us at 888-835-3409 or visit Care360.com.
EHR Incentive Program 2014