Healthcare IT

Keep yourself updated on healthcare news regarding practices and medical software. The new regulations and trends in the health industry and all that you need to know.


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Back to 90 days: The big Meaningful Use announcement

The Announcement:

Healthcare providers across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief when The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its plan to implement a new rule which would shorten the 2015 Meaningful Use reporting period from 365 to just 90 days.

The federal agency’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Patrick Conway, M.D. made this announcement via a blog post on January 29.

“The new rule, expected this spring, would be intended to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015,” he said, adding that “It would also be intended to propose changes reflective of developments in the industry and progress toward program goals achieved since the program began in 2011.”

Meaningful-Use  CureMD

The list of proposals being considered by CMS:

  • Realigning hospital EHR reporting periods to the calendar year. Consequently, eligible hospitals will have much-needed time to conveniently amalgamate the 2014-Edition software with their workflows. They would also be assisted in adapting to other quality programs which have similar requirements.
  • Adjust other MU specifics so that they are aligned with the long-term goals of the program, and to decrease the complexity and reporting burden faced by providers.
  • Shortening the 365-day reporting period for EHRs in 2015 would aide in accommodating these changes.

The distinction:

However, it is pertinent to mention that the forthcoming proposed rule for MU Stage 3 is unrelated to this announcement; and will go on as planned. The proposal for Stage 3 will be applicable for the Meaningful Use of EHRs from 2017 onwards.

The history:

Many stakeholders in the health care industry had united in opposition of the 365-day MU reporting period for 2015.  The pressure groups were able to persuade several members of the Congress to push for legislation to reduce the reporting period to 90 days.

In response to the final rule published by CMS and the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) last August, Congresswoman Renee Elmers drafted the Flex-IT bill in the September of 2014.

The aim of this legislation was for providers to continue 90-day EHR reporting for receiving Meaningful Use incentive payments. However, the last legislative session came to an end before anything significant could materialize.

The bill was re-introduced on January 12, 2015, and College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and other large healthcare groups supported its reintroduction.

The reasons:

Pressure to reduce the reporting period had been piling on the CMS for quite some time. More and more care providers and stakeholders were uniting to see this done, stating that the requirements were too stringent to be met.

As mentioned above, this pushed for the matter to be debated in Congress. Additionally, when the stats for Meaningful Use of EHRs came out, the adoption rates for Stage 2 were significantly lower than those of Stage 1.

My views are that the CMS must have already been under immense pressure, and looking to amend the rule, when Congresswoman Elemers reintroduced the bill in Congress. This seems to be the icing on the cake, and could have prompted CMS to finally make the crucial decision.

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Mastering Meaningful Use – It’s still not too late!

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Eligible providers, have you missed the July 1st Meaningful Use deadline?

As a Medicare provider, if you have not meaningfully started using a CCHIT certified EHR by July 1st; you will be facing a 1% reduction on Medicare part B payment in 2015.

However, it is still not too late. You can avoid further penalty in 2016 and still receive the government incentive payment if you follow a timeline in the next few months.

Tune into our webinar to learn how CureMD’s experienced Meaningful Use consultants can help you gear up for October 1st MU deadline, so you can get back to what matters most – helping your patients.

Key points:

  • Increase financial stability by avoiding payment penalties
  • Ensure successful documentation of Meaningful Use
  • Improve the overall effectiveness of patient care
  • CMS Audits for MU – What you need to know?

We will help you with everything from start to finish.

 


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Will I Be Penalized for Not Using an EHR System?

The government wants to move the health industry into the digital age and is giving incentives and deadline for those who adopt electronic health records (EHR). As with all government benefits this electronic health records directive comes with limitations. For all those who are not able to meet the electronic health records deadline for the implementation the government will penalize them.meaningful use

For physicians who not yet adopted the EHR/EMR systems or are not able demonstrate the “meaningful use” by the deadline in 2015 their Medicare reimbursements will be decreased by 1%. The rate for deduction will increase in the succeeding years by 2% in 2016, 3% in 2017, 4% in 2018 and up to 95% in the future adjustments.

Digital Health Records Incentive

As part of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, physicians are able to receive up to $44,000 in Medicare incentive payments starting from 2011 for implementing an EHR system. Physicians are required to demonstrate the “meaningful use”. The “meaningful use” is measure in stages. The stage 1 started in 2011 and ended in 2012. The physicians were required to fulfill 14 to 15 core requirements and select five additional from the menu of 10 options. Some of these requirements consisted of electronic file system for all patients’ health records, transcription services and medical billing system. Physicians are required to wait until the end of 2014 to meet the stage 2. For stage 3 it is yet to be defined.

Implementing EHR Software Can Help Avoid Penalties

To avoid themselves from being penalized, physicians are required to prepare by understanding the EHR/EMR directive and recognizing the requirements and process for implementing the EHR systems. It is predicted by the experts that near the mid decade there will be more physicians that will be looking to implement that EHR/EMR as than the support staff of certified EHR/EMR can handle. As the requirements of every physician for digital electronic health records are different, the time required for the certified EHR software provider to plan, install and implement the system is around 2-4 months. The time required for training is usually six to eight months for every physician that is in practice to qualify as a “Meaningful EHR user”. But know this that it doesn’t include the time that is required to find and select an EHR Software provider that is right for the physician.


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The most ideal 4 Practice Management features

The administrative side is one of the most important features of every practice. It ensures a practice has smooth cash flows, which are itself the lifeline for a medical business. However, tasks like coding and documentation take a lot of time and can lead to losses if not managed correctly.

The majority of practicing physicians spend more than 20% of their time performing administrative duties instead of patient care.

Let’s take a look at some of the most ideal practice management features.

E-Signatures

Most of the providers are not sure if e-signatures are allowed for HIPAA and Meaningful Use. The good news is, both federal programs accept e-signatures on electronically transmitted documents. The most ideal Practice Management system will let you set up an electronic signature which will save you from the hassle of manually signing hundreds of claims and medical notes.

Automatic Insurance check

Imagine spending hours calling up payers to verify patient insurance eligibility. And if you staff spend a lot of time doing this, they might end up focusing on only the administrative side of the practice and will not focus on the patients who might be waiting in the office. The most ideal practice management solutions will automatically check patient insurance information as soon as you book an appointment.

Appointment reminders

Patient no-shows can be frustrating to no end. They mess up your entire schedule, and even hurt your practice’s profitability.

Most PM systems will call patients and leave a reminder about an upcoming appointment. But exemplary systems use email and text messaging to communicate reminders as well.

Patient portals

Finally, a patient portal can act as a great source of medical information for your patients. It allows them to find education materials, pay bills and even schedule appointments. This decreases the need for patients to call your practice.

Thinking of changing to a new practice management solution? Click here to request a free demo.