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Providers Must Attest to 2015 EHR Incentive Program Requirements by March 11, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST

Posted on March 8, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The attestation deadline for the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program is only 3 days away!

Eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program must attest using the Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Registration and Attestation System no later than Friday, March 11, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Medicaid EHR Incentive Program participants should refer to their respective states for attestation information and deadlines. Certain Medicaid eligible professionals may use the Registration and Attestation System as an alternate attestation method to avoid the Medicare payment adjustment (80 FR 62900 through 62901).

To attest to the EHR Incentive Programs in 2015:

  • Eligible Professionals may select an EHR reporting period of any continuous 90 days from January 1, 2015 (the start of the 2015 calendar year) through December 31, 2015.
  • Eligible Hospitals/CAHs may select an EHR reporting period of any continuous 90 days from October 1, 2014 (the start of the federal fiscal year) through December 31, 2015.

New EHR Attestation Deadline for Eligible Hospitals: December 31, 2014

Posted on November 24, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I just got the following note from CMS about an extension to the EHR Attestation deadline for eligible hospitals. Here’s all the details:

CMS is extending the deadline for eligible hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program 2014 reporting year from 11:59 pm EST on November 30, 2014 to 11:59 pm EST on December 31, 2014.

This extension will allow more time for hospitals to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2014 program year, as well as avoid the 2016 Medicare payment adjustment.

CMS is also extending the deadline for eligible hospitals and CAHs that are electronically submitting clinical quality measures (CQMs) to meet that requirement of meaningful use and the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) program. Hospitals now have until December 31, 2014 to submit their eCQM data via Quality Net.

Note: This extension does not impact the deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

A Do-Not-Forget Checklist for EHR Switchers on the Hook for Meaningful Use

Posted on November 21, 2013 I Written By

The following is a guest post by Tom S. Lee, PhD, CEO and Founder at SA Ignite.

According to a recent survey by Black Book rankings, as many as 16 percent of ambulatory EHR users may become  EHR switchers within the next 12 months.  Large health systems such as Intermountain (a client of ours) and the Department of Defense have recently announced that they are switching EHRs or are currently evaluating a change. Many such organizations are planning to switch EHRs while continuing to meet increasingly difficult Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU) requirements.  According to past National Coordinator  Dr. Farzad Mostashari, there will be no delay of MU Stage 2. That means your health IT road map may now include switching EHRs, managing Stage 2 attestations, and achieving ICD-10 compliance.

How do you switch jugglers while the number of balls in the air increases at the same time?

We have encountered a common set of issues and questions in our work with clients, discussions with prospects, and exchanges with thought leaders in the industry related to the EHR switching scenario, especially as it relates to Meaningful Use.  Here are some things to consider:

1. Assess and properly store data from your old EHR for future MU audits. A recent wave of MU audit notices has been sent by CMS to some of the country’s leading health systems. Each MU attestation is subject to audit 6 years after the attestation date.  With this in mind, be sure to pull out and securely and centrally store all supporting data from your old EHR before its license expires.  Get expert assistance if needed to understand how to build a comprehensive and solid audit trail.  One great place start is the guidance on audit documentation provided by CMS.

2. Optimize the timing of the EHR switch relative to government reporting timelines.  For example, in 2014 there is a one-time opportunity to report on only a calendar quarter’s worth of data for many eligible providers, rather than the entire year.  This modification to MU was originally made to accommodate delayed Stage 2 certifications by the EHR vendors.  However, it can also be leveraged by EHR switchers who can time the switch to happen within 2014 to benefit from a lower compliance bar while the massive impacts of switching EHRs are absorbed by the organization.

3. Plan to merge data across EHRs to meet MU reporting requirements.  Even with the 2014 calendar-quarter reporting reprieve, for many hospitals and eligible providers to achieve Meaningful Use in an EHR-switching year it’ll be necessary to stitch together Meaningful Use data across the old and new EHRs in order to meet many MU reporting requirements.  For example, this may be required simply to meet the minimum certified EHR usage threshold to be eligible for the MU program in that year.  Assume merging data will be necessary, prepare how to do so before your old EHR license expires, seek help, or do both. An interesting contingency we have seen is to drive eligible providers to “over perform” on their MU measures on the old EHR in anticipation that MU performance will drop at the outset of adapting to the new EHR.  This will increase the chances that providers’ total MU performance within a reporting period spanning both EHRs will end up above threshold.

4. Plan to be supporting two EHRs at the same time.  Although it is sometimes possible to do a “big bang” switchover to a new EHR across an entire organization, we often see that rollout plans for the new EHR are phased across specialty, location, or other sub-groups.  During those periods when the organization could be supporting two different EHRs, such as two ambulatory EHRs in different geographic regions, it is important to organize and align teams to not only handle the immediate demands of MU but also transition completely to supporting the new EHR.  For example, MU data reporting and attestation can be hard enough for just one ambulatory EHR, much less two.  It takes preparation well in advance of the EHR switch and government attestation deadlines to avoid 11th hour fire drills.

Is your organization juggling MU requirements while switching EHRs? If so, I’m sure that you’ve found there are additional considerations surrounding an EHR switch that are important to keep in mind. I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

Meaningful Use Attestations With Faked Vendor Info?

Posted on April 17, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

When providers attest to Meaningful Use Stage 1 compliance, they have to identify the vendor whose EMR they used. But what if a large number of providers were faking this step in an effort to get incentive money that they don’t deserve?  That would be a lot of fraud, no?

Well, according to one vendor CEO, this could be happening on a large scale. Mike Jenkins, CEO of cloud-based vendor BuildYourEMR.com, reports that after going over CMS data on Meaningful Use, he found that a whopping 74 percent of providers who attested to using his company’s technology were not his customers.

Jenkins points out that if fraud were actually this common, a full $5.4 billion of the $7.6 billion paid out to providers would have been paid out in error. He admits that there could be something wrong with the CMS data, or that providers selected his company’s product name by accident, but concedes that it’s possible attestation fraud is more common than we think.

I’m not telling you this to suggest that the Meaningful Use program is riddled with fraudulent activity.  I’m doubful, in fact, that even a fraction of providers would dare incur the wrath of Medicare by making such a traceable error, much less consciously try to rip the incentive program off.

This does suggest, however, that more healthcare IT people should take a look at the CMS data and go over it themselves, especially EMR vendors. While there may not be a hailstorm of fraud going on, something may be seriously amiss in how CMS collects data or how providers report on their attestation.  It’d definitely be good to get ahead of any pending troubles with CMS, for sure.

Few Healthcare Pros Have Attested To Meaningful Use

Posted on February 25, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Despite all of the attention given to Meaningful Use, it seems that eligible healthcare professionals have been relatively slow to achieve compliance. A new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that just over 12 percent of EPs had attested to the Medicare portion of Meaningful Use as of May 2012, well into the life of the program.

The reasons for this relatively low uptake are complex, but clearly, the EMRs physicians are buying are part of the problem. As a piece in iHealthBeat notes, the National Center for Health Statistics recently found that only 27 percent of office-based physicians had EMRs capable of supporting 13 of the Stage 1 objectives for the MU program.  Since EPs have to meet 15 core objectives, plus five of 10 menu options, that leaves the remaining 73 percent of office-based physicians out in the cold.

To calculate uptake of Meaningful Use attestation for the NEJM, researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at combined CMS data from April 2011 to May 2012, and GAO estimates of the number of eligible professionals in the U.S.

The researchers found that 12.2 percent of 509,328 eligible professionals had attested to the Medicare portion of the MU program as of May 2012, including 17.8 percent eligible PCPs and 9.8 percent of specialists. PCPs accounted for 44 percent of all Medicare Meaningful Use attestations, the researchers concluded.

Looked at state by state, the median Medicare attestation rate was 7.7 percent of eligible professionals, though rates varied from 1.9 percent in Alaska and 24.2 percent in North Dakota.

These statistics must not be very encouraging ones for CMS, particularly the leaders are ONC. And they certainly make one wonder whether the mass of doctors will end up facing penalties in 2015 rather than making sure they attest to Meaningful Use Stage 1. This should be a real eye-opener for policymakers.  As for doctors whose systems simply won’t make the grade, well, this has been called the year of the big EMR switch. I guess we may see even more switching than we expected.

Disturbing: Empty EHR Meaningful Use Reports

Posted on August 8, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Melissa Joubert offered this comment on a LinkedIn thread I was following that I found incredibly disturbing:

This and many other barriers currently exist. For example, some systems that claim to be certified for meaningful use simply don’t offer a fully integrated report module. I have seen cases where either the numbers are skewed, or there are no numbers showing at all even when a practice swears they are entering all necessary data.

Have you seen this happening as well? Have you seen certified EHR software that can’t report the proper meaningful use numbers? If this was widespread I’d think that we’d have heard more people complaining about it. What’s been your experience?

EMR Market Numbers and Number of EHR Vendors with 0 Meaningful Use Attestations

Posted on June 21, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Since I’ve kind of turned EMR Thoughts into an EMR and healthcare IT market website, I feel I should definitely point out this post I did on EMR and HIPAA about the Meaningful Use EHR Vendor Breakout by Percentage. It’s a really interesting post looking at which EHR vendors are doing well with meaningful use attestation and a look at what that means in the broader EHR market.

In the comments, Dr. Rowley (who first posted some of the meaningful use numbers) offered this added insight that I think is worth highlighting:

Here’s another observation on the ambulatory EHR market. If you look at all the Certified complete EHRs on the CMS CHPL list, and compare that to the HHS Meaningful Use list from data.gov, you will see that 284 vendors had products that were used (at least once) for MU attestion; however 295 additional vendors had NO usage of their products for MU attestation in 2011. More argument to a very crowded field, and lots of products in the market with perhaps no usage (or, at least, no Meaningful Usage).

Nearly 300 EHR vendors are listed on the list of Complete Certified EHR and had 0 meaningful use attestations! Wow! I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised since I even know a number of EHR vendors that still aren’t complete EHR certified. The volume of EHR companies is just astounding to me though.

These will be important numbers to look at near the end of 2012. We’ll see how many of those nearly 300 EHR companies still don’t have any meaningful use attestations.

Who Will Police EMRs and EHRs?

Posted on November 7, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

Amid all the dog-bites-man type health IT news, here are some not-so-positive EMR/EHR stories that have been reported:

– An EMR in Lifespan hospital group gave incorrect prescriptions to some 2000 patients. The article in the Providence Journal says that

The hospitals have placed calls to nearly all the affected patients, although not all have called back, Cooper said. Most patients reached had already obtained the correct medication because the error was noticed by someone at the hospital, or a pharmacist or doctor outside, she said. So far, Cooper said, there is no evidence that any- one was harmed.

Thank goodness for that.

– Incorrectly calculated MU thresholds (GE Centricity). I’m not going to rehash the story, but you can check out Neil Versel’s article in InformationWeek, the spirited discussion on my previous EMR and EHR blog post and John’s EMR and HIPAA blog post.

It might be just be my skewed viewpoint, but GE Centricity related issues are nowhere on par with people being prescribed the wrong prescription. In one case, a few practices may not be able to demonstrate Meaningful Use. Wrong medication could actually be life-threatening to you. So if I had to rank my problems, I’d rather be short by 44K than worry about my EMR inadvertently killing my patients off.

What we need is a governing body, similar to the National Transportation Safety Board, to police EMRs, says Paul Cerrato in a recent InformationWeek Healthcare article.

Cerrato writes:

“An NTSB-like organization for EHRs would at the very least provide a reporting mechanism to keep track of incidents and life-threatening consequences of misusing e-records. More importantly, it could police vendors and healthcare providers who repeatedly ignore these dangers.”

Cerrato goes on to say there are only 120 EHR-specific problems reported to the FDA over the last 18 years. That figure, if correct, to me shows:

  • EMR users don’t know how/where they can report EMR related errors or don’t expect any action to be taken – this certainly is credible, because from all quarters, it seems as if the focus is just to get the healthcare field into electronic data capture, not on whether the experience delivers any tangible and useful benefits
  • Maybe they’re willing to give EMRs a pass assuming the healthcare IT to be in infancy
  • They’re too overwhelmed with the EMRs’ capabilities/inabilities to really see what’s going on

For a national database of EMR problems to be truly relevant, here’s the information I would look for, on problems I’m facing:

  • How critical was the error? How many people did it affect, and in what ways – medically, financially?
  • How was it handled?
  • How common is it – are there others who’ve faced similar problems?
  • If the problem was not sorted, what raps on the fingers did the vendors face?

Read the article here.