Updates on Key Issues Facing Your Practice by Sue Kay

1. Meaningful Use
As we’ve previously written, during the last week of December, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced a proposed rule to define “meaningful use.”

At the time, CMS identified three proposed stages of meaningful use criteria as follows:

a. Stage 1 focuses on the electronic capture and tracking of codified health information, use of data for the coordination of care, and on the reporting of clinical quality measures and health information to CMS. For Stage 1, which begins in 2011, CMS proposed 25 objectives for eligible professionals and 23 objectives for hospitals that must be met to be considered a “meaningful user” of EHR technology.

b. Stage 2 (which will be finalized at a later date thereby making meaningful use somewhat of a moving target), will expand upon Stage 1 in the areas of disease management, clinical decision support, medication management and support for patient access to their health information among other areas.

c. Stage 3 (which will also be finalized at a later date), will focus on achieving improvements in quality, safety and efficiency.

After a period of public comment and further discussion/debate by CMS and ONC, we’re expecting Health and Human Services (HHS) to finalize Stage 1 criteria within the next two weeks.

Although many healthcare practitioners have expressed concern over the quick timeline, national IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal seems to think we’re not moving fast enough.

Read his recent blog on the topic here.

2. EHR Certification Process
On Friday, June 18, 2010, The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released a final rule establishing a temporary electronic health records certification program.

You can find a copy of this rule (in a non-final format) here.

It will actually be published on June 24. A final rule for a permanent certification program probably won’t be available until this Fall.

A few highlights of the temporary program:

• CCHIT (Certification Commission for Health Information Technology) was not automatically deemed the certifying agency. They will have to apply along with other organizations who want to be the certifying entity.
• There is no “grandfathering” of existing CCHIT certified EHR systems. All EHRs will need to be re-certified.

For additional information on the certification process and associated timelines, click here.

3. Proposed 21.3% Medicare Cut
On Friday, the Senate took action on the proposed 21.3 percent Medicare cuts by passing legislation blocking the cuts from going into effect until November 30. Now, the House must also vote. That vote is expected next week.

If it passes into law, Medicare providers will not only avoid the 21.3 percent cut, but will actually receive a 2.2 percent increase for claims with dates of service from June 1 through November 30.

In conjunction with the Senate’s action, Medicare announced it would begin processing claims is has already received for June (which were previously on hold) at the lower rate. Once the House approves the bill, claims processed at the lower rate will be automatically reprocessed.

For additional information, click here for an article published by the American Medical News.

© 2010 Efficiency in Practice

Sue Kay, Senior Consultant at InHealth, is the editor of Efficiency in Practice, the free eNewsletter for medical practice managers who want to save time, money and reduce risk. For more information and to access your FREE report, The 8 Things You MUST Know About CMS’ RAC Program, visit www.efficiencyinpractice.com or check out our blog at www.efficiencyinpractice.blogspot.com.

This article can be reprinted freely online, as long as the entire article and this resource box are included.

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