Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management, ICD-10, Claims Reimbursement, Medicare, Medicaid

Policy & Regulation News

CMS Announced Possible Changes to EHR Incentive Program

By Ryan Mcaskill

CMS plans to tweak the EHR Incentive program to better align its goals with the feedback it has received from providers.

- Earlier this week, we reported on the upcoming February 28, deadline for healthcare providers that are eligible for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive program. This is a yearly program for physicians, hospitals and critical access hospitals that have implemented EHR technology and are successfully meeting meaningful use requirements.

Many providers are in the process of “attesting” that they are certified EHR users, but it seems as if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), one of the governing bodies of this process, plans to modify the requirements for meaningful use.

In a blog post, Patrick Conway, M.D., Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality, CMS Chief Medical Officer, explained that CMS intended to update the incentive program, starting in 2015.

“The new rule, expected this spring, would be intended to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015. It would also be intended to propose changes reflective of developments in the industry and progress toward program goals achieved since the program began in 2011,” Conway wrote.

There are three main proposals under consideration. These include:

•Realign reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals time to incorporate 2014 Edition software and better align additional CMS quality programs.

•Modify program to match long-term goals, reduce complexity and lessen provider’s reporting burdens.

•Shorten EHR reporting period to 90 days to accommodate these changes.

These represent multiple options to better realign the program to address the progress that has been made by the program since being implemented in 2011 and reflect the feedback from providers that deal with the program headon. There are currently 400,000 eligible providers. That means millions of patients are reaping the benefits of more coordinated care, more accurate prescribing and improved communication.

This is intended to push the changes of meaningful use through rule making. This is separate from the upcoming Stage 3 proposed rule that will be announced in early March. Any changes that will impact the Stage 3 meaningful use will wait until 2017 or longer to take affect.

“These 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 and supports the providers who care for patients,” Conway wrote. “We continuously strive to work in partnership with providers to improve affordability, access, and quality.”



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