CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) meaningful use Stage 1 requirements emphasize and encourage the ongoing conversion to EHR (Electronic Health Records). Now that CMS meaningful use Stage 2 requirements are finalized, eligible professionals (EP) in all specialties must become familiar with the requirements and understand how these mandates can affect their practices.
Stage 1 Requirement Summary
By now, EPs and practices should have satisfied meaningful use Stage 1 requirements. Three major requirements dominate Stage 1.
- Achieve 15 "core objectives." A sample of the mandated core objectives includes e-prescribing, providing patients with electroic copies of their health information, recording practice demographics, maintaining up-to-date medication lists and security measures for EHR.
- Complete 5 out of 10 objectives on the menu set. EPs must include at least one "public health objective" in their objectives, including installing the ability to submit electronic data to to immunization registries.
- Implement 6 Clinical Quality Measures (CQM). Complete 3 core CQMs, which include blood pressure management, weight screening and assessment for adults, children and adolescents, influenza immunization, focused on patients over 50 years old. The additional CQM menu contains 38 items, of which you must complete at least another 3.
Stage 2 Summary
Similar to Stage 1, the overriding objective is to use "computer provider order entry" (CPOE) systems for medication, laboratory, and radiology orders and services, entering electronic data into state and local repositories. More of an enhancement than a new set of regulations, Stage 2 requirements focus on the following achievements.
- Increasing the health information collected and exchanged between medical providers.
- Promoting patient knowledge and engagement by offering patients secure online access to their health information.
- EPs must complete Stage 1 requirements before becoming eligible to achieve Stage 2 objectives.
The original goal of the meaningful use provisions in the HITECH Act, 100,000 EPs and hospitals, for Stage 1 has already been achieved. Currently, there are over 120,000 EPs and more than 3,300 hospitals eligible to participate in Stage 2.
Originally slated to commence in 2013, CMS delayed Stage 2 requirements until 2014 to give EPs and hospitals more time to get ready. Stage 3, for which the rules have yet to be published, is scheduled to begin in 2016, at the earliest.
Meaningful Use Stage 2 Criteria Beneficial Effects on Your Practice
The following upside effects will improve your practice.
- You'll be in compliance with the national mandate to convert patient records to fully digital EHRs.
- Satisfying Stage 2 criteria makes EPs eligible to earn an extra $44,000 to $64,000 over a five-year period from CMS for fulfilling HITECH Act and Meaningful Use guidelines.
- EPs who achieve Stage 2 criteria further benefit as around 70 percent of these incentives come in the first two years of implementation.
These incentives are "meaningful" by themselves. Compliance and achievement of these requirements offer the practice extra income and potentially fewer issues with RAC audits and possibly less CMS attention.
Stage 2 Potential Negative Effects on Your Practice
Physicians, practice managers, hospitals and staff must be aware of the potential downside of non-compliance and under-achievement of Stage 2 criteria. There is one primary negative effect that stands out above all others.
EPs and hospitals that neglect to install EHR that meet requirements by 2015 face monetary penalties. These penalties involve percentage decreases in Medicare reimbursement rates, depending on the level of non-achievement.
To ensure satisfying HITECH Act meaningful use criteria, now focused on Stage 2, practices should consider employing one of the top third-party specialists, such as M-Scribe Technologies, LLC, to use their expertise and technology to provide EHR that achieves the criteria. Take advantage of the monetary incentives and avoid the penalties to receive beneficial effects for your practice from Stage 2 criteria.
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