Learn the Latest Meaningful Use Requirements for Your Practice

Thu, Jan 14, 2016 --


EHR systems, ehr incentive program, EHR rule, ehr vendors, 2015 ehr program, medicare ehr incentive program, ehr incentive program 2015, CEHRT, Certified EHR Technology

Wondering what’s up with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ EHR program for 2016? CMS released its final rule for stage 3 of the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program in October, and it features modifications to meaningful use (MU).

First, A Meaningful-Use Memory Jogger

In case you’ve been thinking about other things besides electronic health records and meaningful use, here’s a quick refresher. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) established the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program, which gave incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs) who could prove they were able to meaningfully use certified EHR technology. Medicare incentive payments to EPs ended in 2014, but the Medicaid program will continue to pay out incentives through 2016. The incentives are the part that people call “the carrot”—they are the nice inducement to get providers to invest in EHR technology. But starting in January 2015, CMS began wielding “the stick”—penalties—on eligible providers who were unable to demonstrate meaningful use under either the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. The penalty for not demonstrating MU in 2015 was one percent of the EP’s fee schedule payments, and that “stick” will grow to two percent this year, and to three percent in 2017 and 2018.

Is Your Practice Exempt?

CMS offers a few categories of exemptions from meeting meaningful use requirements. First, hospital-based eligible professionals—those who provide 90 percent or more of their covered services in a setting of a hospital emergency room or inpatient setting—can apply for exemptions from the payment adjustments. CMS determines this classification using place of service codes on claims submitted to Medicare (POS code 21 for Inpatient Hospital and POS code 23 for Emergency Room – Hospital.) There are a number of other exemption opportunities, too, including poor Internet access in your community. Check out CMS’s tip sheet on hardship exemptions.

Good News: Final Rules Ease Meaningful Use Requirements

In recent years, providers adopting EHR software bore the brunt of workflow disruptions, expense, poor documentation quality, and lack of interoperability between systems. In fact, at an online town hall meeting sponsored by the American Medical Association in July, AMA president Steven Stack, MD, described his own experience the day his emergency department’s EHR went live: “It was like the way I had practiced medicine for 12 years was ripped out of my head, and I had to reinvent the whole way I organized, accessed, and used information and data,” Stack said. “It was the most singularly disruptive day in my medical practice.”

But now the CMS October 6 final rule announcement makes significant changes to the current requirements for meaningful use in an attempt to alleviate pain like this. The final rules allow providers to choose the measures of progress that are most meaningful to their practice and provide more time to implement changes to program requirements.

Read the Major Provisions for EHR Incentive Programs in 2015 Through 2017

  • Reducing objectives for eligible professionals (EPs) from 18 total objectives to just 10 objectives including one public health reporting objective;
  • Reducing objectives for critical access hospitals (CAHs) and eligible hospitals (EHs) from 20 total objectives to only nine objectives, including one public health reporting objective; and
  • Preserving the previously finalized Clinical Quality Measures (CQM) reporting for both EPs and EHs/CAHs.

There’s a comprehensive article on MU changes for subscribers in SuperCoder’s Health Information Compliance newsletter here. You can find CMS’s fact sheet on the EHR Incentive Programs final rule available here.

How’s Your EHR Treating You?

We complain about electronic health record inefficiencies a lot, but some systems have been tweaked and organized to work fairly well. In fact, I recently started using a hospital EHR, and I really like how easily I can find patient information, especially the highly accurate reports from the healthcare documentation department upon which I depend. How about you? Let us know in the comment box below. We love to hear from you!

Increase EHR Efficiency With SuperCoder’s Code Data Sets

Need to increase the efficiency of your EHR? It’s easy to tie your code data sets, including ICD-10, into your EHR with SuperCoder. SuperCoder’s budget-friendly data sets can help you update your coding database or charge master for ICD-10-CM implementation with a developer-ready code set format that includes the same hierarchical arrangement that CMS uses. Save time, save money, and make your EHR more user friendly and your coding life so much easier with SuperCoder! Check it out!


Susan taught health information and healthcare documentation at the community college level for more than 20 years. She has a special love for medical language and terminology. She is passionate about ensuring accurate patient healthcare documentation through education. She has a master's degree in healthcare administration, is a certified healthcare documentation specialist, and serves as immediate past president for the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply