Meaningful Use: 6 things you need to know about the CMS Final Rule changes

After ongoing feedback from medical providers, professional medical associations, and Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released changes to the Meaningful Use program on October 16, 2015. These changes take effect starting 2015 and continue through 2017. The intended aim of this Final Rule is to reduce the complexity of the EHR Incentive Program and address the many challenges that prevented providers from meeting Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements.

Here are the six most important things you need to know about the changes and how Practice Fusion is supporting you through this transition.

Meaningful Use Rules

  • Every provider will now be completing a 90-day reporting period for the 2015 reporting year.
  • All providers are now in Stage 2 of Meaningful Use — with a “Modified Stage 2” for providers that were previously in Stage 1.
  • The core and menu measures have been simplified into 10 “Objectives.”
  • The Stage 2 measures that required patient engagement have been greatly reduced.
  • Many data-entry measures have been eliminated.
  • Attestation will not be available to providers until January 4, 2016. The current attestation deadline is February 29, 2016.

1. Every provider will now be completing a 90-day reporting period for the 2015 reporting year.

No matter what stage or year you were previously in, the Final Rule states that all providers will attest for a 90-day reporting period in 2015. By shortening the reporting period time-frame, CMS hopes to ease providers through the transition to the new modified Meaningful Use program. We are working to update your dashboard to default to a 90-day reporting period for 2015. In the meantime, select “Custom period” and then enter the desired 90-day reporting period.

2. All providers are now in Stage 2 of Meaningful Use — with a “Modified Stage 2” for providers that were previously in Stage 1.

CMS has removed Stage 1 from the program in order to simplify the requirements by placing everyone into the same Stage. However, any providers who were previously in Stage 1 for 2015 will now be placed in “Modified Stage 2” which only requires them to meet Stage 1 requirements.

3. The core and menu measures have been simplified into 10 “Objectives.”

Every provider will complete and attest to 10 objectives, with one or several measures per objective. There is no longer a concept of “core” or “menu” measures.

4. The Stage 2 measures that required patient engagement have been greatly reduced.

The threshold for the measure Patient Electronic Access: View Download and Transmit health information dropped from 5% to “at least one patient seen by the EP during the reporting period.” The 5% threshold for Secure Messaging was removed and replaced with “the capability for patients to send and receive a secure electronic message with the EP was fully enabled during the EHR reporting period.” These measures have been adjusted in order to minimize the burden and challenges that providers were experiencing in meeting Meaningful Use Stage 2.

5. Many data-entry measures have been eliminated.

Record Demographics, Record Vital Signs, Record Smoking Status, Clinical Summaries, Structured Lab Results, Patient List, Patient Reminders, Summary of Care Measure 1 – Any Method and Measure 3 – Test, Electronic Notes, Imaging Results, and Family Health History have been removed from the reporting requirements.

6. Attestation will not be available to providers until January 4, 2016. The current attestation deadline is February 29, 2016.

CMS needs time to update the attestation process to support the changes to the Meaningful Use program. We’ll continue to update you with additional information on attestation as we approach the attestation window in 2016.

Practice Fusion remains committed to providing you with the tools and resources you need to continue earning EHR incentives and avoid penalties.

We’re currently updating your Meaningful Use Dashboard to reflect the new structure of the reporting requirements and will make this available to you before the end of this year. We’re also enhancing our Meaningful Use Center and Knowledge Base to help keep you informed in a continuously evolving quality program landscape.