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Medical Coding News Archives

Meeting ‘Meaningful Use’ Criteria for Electronic Health Records

 
December 21, 2012:

Jill Harrington, Manager, Clinical/Technical Editor

The Medicare electronic health record incentive programs provide financial incentives for the “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology to increase its use across the industry and help improve patient care. To receive an EHR incentive payment, providers must show that they are “meaningfully using” (by the definition of the regulation, as will be discussed below) their EHRs by meeting certain thresholds for a number of objectives.

These EHR incentive programs were created in a staged format, with three steps of increasing requirements for participation. Provider participation begins with meeting the stage 1 requirements for a 90-day period in the first year of meaningful use and for a full year in the second year. After providers have met the stage 1 requirements, they then have to meet stage 2 requirements for two full years. Eligible professionals participate in the program according to calendar years, while eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAH’s) participate according to the federal fiscal year.

For both stage 1 and stage 2 of meaningful use, there is both a core set and a menu set of objectives specific to eligible professionals or eligible hospitals and CAHs. Stage 1 consists of 25 meaningful use objectives. To qualify for an incentive payment, providers must meet 20 of these 25 objectives, including all 15 required core objectives and five of the 10 menu set objectives. For eligible hospitals and CAHs, there are 24 meaningful use objectives in stage 1. The incentive payment depends on meeting 19 of these 24 objectives, including the 14 required core objectives and five of the 10 menu set objectives.

For detailed information on the stage 1 objectives for eligible professionals, visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) web site.
For detailed information on the stage 1 objectives for eligible hospitals and CAHs, visit the CMS site.

On September 4, 2012, CMS published a final rule for stage 2 meaningful use. The listing of stage 2 objectives for eligible professionals consists of 17 core and 6 menu, or 23 overall objectives. To demonstrate meaningful use under stage 2 criteria, eligible professionals must meet 17 core objectives and 3 menu objectives that they select from a total list of 6, for a total of 20 objectives. Eligible hospitals and CAHs must meet 16 core objectives and 3 menu objectives that they select from a total list of 6, for a total of 19 objectives.

For detailed information on the stage 2 objectives for eligible professionals, visit the CMS site.
For detailed information on the stage 2 objectives for eligible hospitals and CAHs, visit the CMS site.

Medicare payment adjustments are required by law to take effect in 2015 for those providers who choose not to comply with requirements to implement an electronic health record meeting meaningful use criteria. This latest rule finalized a process in which payment adjustment will be determined by an EHR reporting period prior to the payment adjustment year 2015. Medicare providers demonstrating meaningful use in 2013 will avoid payment adjustment in 2015. Medicare physician providers that first demonstrate meaningful use in 2014 will avoid the penalty in 2015 as well if they successfully register and attest to meaningful use by October 1, 2014.

 

 
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