Isn’t it exciting when the government finally explains rules they set forth ?
Isn’t it great when the government clearly and concisely details for all to understand the hoops that must be jumped through in order to receive money promised?
I speak of course about the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) incentive to pay physicians, through Medicare & Medicaid, when they use electronic health record systems (EHRs) to achieve specific improvement in care delivery.
Remember how everyone ran out and bought an EHR because Uncle Sam was going to “give them” $44,000?
Remember how, once you spent all of that money, then you then began to try and figure out how to get reimbursed?
Remember how difficult it was to figure out how to get reimbursed?
Have you figured that out yet?
One lynch pin in qualifying for reimbursement was proving “Meaningful Use”.
As usually happens in these circumstances, many folks made educated guesses on what Meaningful Use was going to actually mean.
I haven’t read all of those guesses, but I don’t recall anyone being even close to what was just released.
The final rule regulation is explained in explained in a mere 864 pages.
Among other things, it has created 2 groups of requirements that your EHR must meet. Really, what these requirements do is ensure you aren’t strapping together Excel and Word with bubble gum & bailing wire and claiming it is an EHR.
Group 1 of these requirements is called the “core objectives”.
This consists of things like:
- Recording patient demographics on more than 50% of your patients
- Recording vital signs and chart changes on more than 50% of your patients
- Recording smoking status for patients 13 and older for more than 50% of your patients 13 & older
- Implement drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checks
This isn’t quite half the required core set, but you get the point.
Next there is an optional section. No it is not optional for you to follow these objectives, but you must choose 5 items from a list of about 10 to implement.
Some of these items include:
- Implement drug formulary checks
- Incorporate clinical lab test results into your EHR for more than 40% of your patients
- Use EHR technology to identify patient-specific education resources & provide this information to your patients
And much more.
Note: in a later posting, we will discuss each of the “optional” items and which we feel would be easiest to implement.
What does all of this mean?
It’s quite simple actually: call your EHR vendor and ensure they are doing what is required for your EHR to fulfill meaningful use.
There is no need for you to run around worrying about which menu sets to choose.
Just do this: get a letter (yes a written letter) from your EHR vendor certifying your EHR meets the requirements of meaningful use.
It really is that simple…for you at least.
This doesn’t mean suddenly you’ll start to receive that EHR money.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if around each corner up pops another requirement like…HIPAA compliance!
Yes, there are many out there that believe that HIPAA compliance will be required to receive that check.
It might go something like this:
Let’s pretend you have all of your ducks-in-a-row on the meaningful use side of the house. Now the CMS says, “Ok, nice job, but first we must do a HIPAA audit to ensure you are in compliance.”
Yes, then year 2, HIPAA Audit.
Year 3, HIPAA Audit.
Year 4, HIPAA Audit.
Oh, yes, one more thing. You better show progress each year or No Check For You!
It could, and just might, happen.