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EHR Incentive Programs: Where We Go Next (Message from Andy Slavitt and Karen DeSalvo)

Where We’ve Been

As we mentioned in a speech last week, the Administration is working on an important transition for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. We have been working side by side with physician organizations and have listened to the needs and concerns of many about how we can make improvements that will allow technology to best support clinicians and their patients. While we will be putting out additional details in the next few months, we wanted to provide an update today.

In 2009, the country embarked on an effort to bring technology that benefits us in the rest of our lives into the health care system. The great promise of technology is to bring information to our fingertips, connect us to one another, improve our productivity, and create a platform for a next generation of innovations that we can’t imagine today.

Not long ago, emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and other facilities were sparsely wired. Even investing in technology seemed daunting. There was no common infrastructure. Physician offices often didn’t have the capital to get started and it was hard for many to see the benefit of automating silos when patient care was so dispersed. We’ve come a long way since then with more than 97 percent of hospitals and three quarters of physician offices now wired.

It’s taken a tremendous commitment by physicians, hospitals, technologists, patient groups and experts from all over the country to make the progress we’ve made together in a few short years. The EHR Incentive Programs were designed in the initial years to encourage the adoption of new technology and measure the benefits for patients. And while it helped us make progress, it has also created real concerns about placing too much of a burden on physicians and pulling their time away from caring for patients.

Transitioning From Measuring Clicks to Focusing on Care

Last year, the Administration and Congress took two extraordinary steps to put patients at the center of how we pay for care and support physicians. First, the Administration set a goal that 30 percent in 2016 and 50 percent in 2018 of Medicare payments will be linked to getting better results for patients, providing better care, spending healthcare dollars more wisely, and keeping people healthy.  And, second, Congress advanced this goal through the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which considers quality, cost, and clinical practice improvement activities in calculating how Medicare physician payments are determined. While MACRA also continues to require that physicians be measured on their meaningful use of certified EHR technology for purposes of determining their Medicare payments, it provides a significant opportunity to transition the Medicare EHR Incentive Program for physicians towards the reality of where we want to go next.

What Comes Next

We have been working side by side with physician and consumer communities and have listened to their needs and concerns. As we move forward under MACRA, we will be sharing details and inviting comment as we roll out our proposed regulations this spring. All of this work will be guided by several critical principles:

  1. Rewarding providers for the outcomes technology helps them achieve with their patients.
  2. Allowing providers the flexibility to customize health IT to their individual practice needs. Technology must be user-centered and support physicians.
  3. Leveling the technology playing field to promote innovation, including for start-ups and new entrants, by unlocking electronic health information through open APIs – technology tools that underpin many consumer applications.  This way, new apps, analytic tools and plug-ins can be easily connected to so that data can be securely accessed and directed where and when it is needed in order to support patient care.
  4. Prioritizing interoperability by implementing federally recognized, national interoperability standards and focusing on real-world uses of technology, like ensuring continuity of care during referrals or finding ways for patients to engage in their own care. We will not tolerate business models that prevent or inhibit the data from flowing around the needs of the patient.

What This Means for Doctors and Hospitals 
As we work through a transition from the staged meaningful use phase to the new program as it will look under MACRA, it is important for physicians and other clinicians to keep in mind several important things:

  1. The current law requires that we continue to measure the meaningful use of ONC Certified Health Information Technology under the existing set of standards. While MACRA provides an opportunity to adjust payment incentives associated with EHR incentives in concert with the principles we outlined here, it does not eliminate it, nor will it instantly eliminate all the tensions of the current system. But we will continue to listen and learn and make improvements based on what happens on the front line.
  2. The MACRA legislation only addresses Medicare physician and clinician payment adjustments. The EHR incentive programs for Medicaid and Medicare hospitals have a different set of statutory requirements. We will continue to explore ways to align with principles we outlined above as much as possible for hospitals and the Medicaid program.
  3. The approach to meaningful use under MACRA won’t happen overnight. Our goal in communicating our principles now is to give everyone time to plan for what’s next and to continue to give us input.  We encourage you to look for the MACRA regulations this year; in the meantime, our existing regulations – including meaningful use Stage 3 – are still in effect.
  4. In December, Congress gave us new authority to streamline the process for granting hardship exception’s under meaningful use.  This will allow groups of health care providers to apply for a hardship exception instead of each doctor applying individually. This should make the process much simpler for physicians and their practice managers in the future. We will be releasing guidance on this new process soon.

These principles we’ve outlined here reflect the constructive and clear articulation of issues and open sharing of views and data by stakeholders across the health care system, but they also promote our highest priority – better care for the beneficiaries of the Medicare and Medicaid program and patients everywhere.

The challenge with any change is moving from principles to reality. The process will be ongoing, not an instant fix and we must all commit to learning and improving and collaborating on the best solutions. Ultimately, we believe this is a process that will be most successful when physicians and innovators can work together directly to create the best tools to care for patients. We look forward to working collaboratively with stakeholders on advancing this change in the months ahead.

January 19, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Quality Systems, Inc. Announces Agreement to Acquire HealthFusion Holdings, Inc.

Acquisition to accelerate cloud-based development and delivery of QSI/NextGen Healthcare core applications and elevate commitment to ambulatory services sector with addition of clients

IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Quality Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: QSII), announced today an agreement to acquire HealthFusion Holdings, Inc. (HealthFusion) for $165 million plus potential additional contingent consideration of up to $25 million.

Based in San Diego, Calif., HealthFusion is a privately held developer of web-based, cloud computing software for physicians, hospitals and medical billing services. HealthFusion’s 100 percent cloud-based MediTouch® platform is currently used by over 3,000 physician practices, hospital ambulatory centers and medical billing services (totaling more than 6,000 subscribers). The company has historically achieved meaningful double-digit annual revenue growth rates, with a recent annualized revenue pace exceeding $30 million. The contingency for full payment of the earn-out is based on the generation of $43 million of HealthFusion product revenues during calendar 2016.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed during the Company’s current fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2016. Quality Systems expects this transaction to be accretive to its non-GAAP earnings in the first full year following the acquisition.

The Company has secured $200 million in fully committed financing from J.P. Morgan and U.S. Bank. At closing of the transaction, the Company expects to fund approximately $115 million of the consideration via this credit facility and the remainder through excess cash on hand.

“The acquisition of HealthFusion is another example of our strategy to expand both client base and solution capabilities in our ambulatory market. We look forward to sharing this acquisition as a part of our broader strategy with our client base at our annual User Group Meeting in Las Vegas starting this Sunday, November 1,” said Rusty Frantz, president and chief executive officer at Quality Systems, Inc.

“HealthFusion brings an extremely intuitive, fully mobile, cloud-based solution that affords smaller groups of physicians and other providers a clean EHR experience within a fully integrated suite of solutions for their practice. Over time, we will focus on expanding the platform to satisfy the needs of practices of increasing size and complexity. We will also look to provide some of our broader service capabilities to the HealthFusion client base,” Frantz explained.

Dr. Sol Lizerbram, HealthFusion chairman, added: “We believe our SaaS-based healthcare technology products will prove beneficial to Quality Systems’ NextGen Healthcare service offering as the Company advances its cloud solutions capabilities. This acquisition presents significant opportunity to capitalize on the joint successes both companies have achieved to date in the ambulatory market segment.”

J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is acting as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is serving as legal counsel to Quality Systems. TripleTree is acting as exclusive financial advisor and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is serving as legal counsel to HealthFusion.

About HealthFusion

Founded in 1998 by three entrepreneurs including two primary care physicians, San Diego, Calif.-based HealthFusion supports over 6,000 ambulatory subscribers in more than 30 specialties spread across all 50 states and employs 140. HealthFusion develops web-based, cloud computing software for physicians, hospitals and medical billing services. HealthFusion’s fully integrated solution includes MediTouch EHR (Electronic Health Record and Patient Portal) and MediTouch PM (Practice Management and Claims Clearinghouse).

MediTouch EHR was designed for use on mobile tablets such as the iPad, and offers a unique array of features that facilitate adoption of EHR technology. Each integrated module of the MediTouch platform natively supports the iPAD® and the company is a certified Apple Developer. All MediTouch modules function seamlessly together including the EHR, medical billing, practice management, collections, patient portal, and clearinghouse.

To learn more visit HealthFusion.com or follow HealthFusion on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

About Quality Systems, Inc.

Irvine, Calif.-based Quality Systems, Inc. and its NextGen Healthcare subsidiary develop and market computer-based practice management, electronic health records and revenue cycle management applications as well as connectivity products and services for medical and dental group practices. Visit www.qsii.com and www.nextgen.com for additional information.

October 30, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

HHS issues rules to advance electronic health records with added simplicity and flexibility

Public comment period offers forum to gather additional feedback and inform future policies

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today released final rules that simplify requirements and add new flexibilities for providers to make electronic health information available when and where it matters most and for health care providers and consumers to be able to readily, safely, and securely exchange that information. The final rule for 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria (2015 Edition) and final rule with comment period for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHRs) Incentive Programs will help continue to move the health care industry away from a paper-based system, where a doctor’s handwriting needed to be interpreted and patient files could be misplaced.

“We have a shared goal of electronic health records helping physicians, clinicians, and hospitals to deliver better care, smarter spending, and healthier people.  We eliminated unnecessary requirements, simplified and increased flexibility for those that remain, and focused on interoperability, information exchange, and patient engagement. By 2018, these rules move us beyond the staged approach of ‘meaningful use’ and focus on broader delivery system reform,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, M.D., M.Sc., CMS deputy administrator for innovation and quality and chief medical officer. “Most importantly we are seeking additional public comments and plan for active engagement of stakeholders so we take time to get broad input on how to improve these programs over time.”

HHS heard from physicians and other providers about the challenges they face making this technology work well for their individual practices and for their patients. In recognition of these concerns, the regulations announced today make significant changes in current requirements. They will ease the reporting burden for providers, support interoperability, and improve patient outcomes.  Providers can choose the measures of progress that are most meaningful to their practice and have more time to implement changes to program requirements. Providers are encouraged to apply for hardship exceptions if they need to switch or have other technology difficulties with their EHR vendor. Additionally, the new rules give developers more time to create user-friendly technologies that give individuals easier access to their information so they can be engaged and empowered in their care.

As part of today’s regulations, CMS announced a 60-day public comment period to gather additional feedback about the EHR Incentive Programs going forward, in particular with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which established the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and consolidates certain aspects of a number of quality measurement and federal incentive programs into one more efficient framework. We will use this feedback to inform future policy developments for the EHR Incentive Programs, as well as consider it during rulemaking to implement MACRA, which we expect to release in the spring of 2016.

In addition to the final rule for the EHR Incentive Programs, ONC is also announcing the final rule for the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria. This rule focuses on increasing interoperability – a secure but seamless flow of electronic health information – and improving transparency and competition in the health IT marketplace.

“This rule is a key step forward in our work with the private sector to realize the shared goal of making actionable electronic health information available when and where it matters most to transform care and improve health for the individual, community and larger population.   It will bring us closer to a world in which health care providers and consumers can readily, safely and securely exchange electronic health information,” said Karen B. DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., national coordinator for health IT.

For more information about today’s announcement visit: http://cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2015-Fact-sheets-items/2015-10-06.html

For more information on the CMS final rule with comment period, click here:http://cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2015-Fact-sheets-items/2015-10-06-2.html

For more information on ONC’s editions of certification criteria visit:
https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/factsheet_draft_2015-10-06.pdf

October 6, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

HHS announces proposed rules to support the path to nationwide interoperability

Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs and 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria rules proposed

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today announced the release of the Stage 3 notice of proposed rulemaking for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHRs) Incentive Programs and 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria to improve the way electronic health information is shared and ultimately improve the way care is delivered and experienced. Together, these proposed rules will give providers additional flexibility, make the program simpler, and drive interoperability among electronic health records, and increase the focus on patient outcomes to improve care.

The proposed rules are one part of a larger effort across HHS to deliver better care, spend health dollars more wisely, and have healthier people and communities by working in three core areas: to improve the way providers are paid; improve the way care is delivered; and improve the way information is shared. Together, these improvements can support better care and lower costs in the health care system.

“The flow of information is fundamental to achieving a health system that delivers better care, smarter spending, and healthier people. The steps we are taking today will help to create more transparency on cost and quality information, bring electronic health information to inform care and decision making, and support population health,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.

The Meaningful Use Stage 3 proposed rule issued by CMS specifies new criteria that eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals must meet to qualify for Medicaid EHR incentive payments. The rule also proposes criteria that providers must meet to avoid Medicare payment adjustments (Medicaid has no payment adjustments) based on program performance beginning in payment year 2018. The rule give more flexibility and simplifies requirements for providers by focusing on advanced use of electronic health records and eliminating requirements that are no longer relevant.

The 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria proposed rule aligns with the path toward interoperability – the secure, efficient, and effective sharing and use of health information –identified in ONC’s draft shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap. The proposed rule builds on past editions of adopted health IT certification criteria, and includes new and updated IT functionality and provisions that support the EHR Incentive Programs care improvement, cost reduction, and patient safety across the health system.

“This Stage 3 proposed rule does three things: it helps simplify the meaningful use program, advances the use of health IT toward our vision for improving health delivery, and further aligns the program with other quality and value programs,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, M.D., M.Sc., CMS acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer. “And, in an effort to make reporting easier for health care providers, we will be proposing a new meaningful use reporting deadline soon.”

“ONC’s proposed rule will be an integral component in the shared nationwide effort to achieve an interoperable health system,” said Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H, M.Sc., national coordinator for health IT. “The certification criteria we have proposed in the 2015 Edition will help achieve that vision through provisions that consider the range of health IT users and uses across the care continuum, including those focused on interoperable standards, data portability, improved transparency, privacy and security capabilities, and increased oversight through ONC’s Health IT Certification Program.”

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, doctors, health care professionals and hospitals, including critical access hospitals, can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments when they adopt and meaningfully use health IT technology certified by ONC. Since the programs began in 2011, more than 433,000 eligible professionals and eligible hospitals have received an incentive payment representing about 60 percent of eligible professionals in either the Medicare or Medicaid programs and about 95 percent of eligible hospitals.

The Stage 3 proposed rule’s scope is generally limited to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and subsequent years. CMS is considering additional changes to meaningful use beginning in 2015 through separate rulemaking. Read more about this announcement on Dr. Conway’s blog.

The Stage 3 proposed rule may be viewed at here and the comment period ends on May 29, 2015. The 2015 Edition proposed rule may be viewed at here and the comment period ends on May 29, 2015. The Draft 2015 Edition Certification Test Procedures may be viewed at HealthIT.gov, and the comment period ends on June 30, 2015.

More information on meaningful use can be found on the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website at http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/index.html.

More information on ONC’s editions of certification criteria can be found at http://www.healthit.gov/policy-researchers-implementers/standards-and-certification-regulations.

March 20, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

GE Healthcare and NextGen Healthcare First to Achieve EHNAC’s Practice Management System Accreditation

Organizations evaluated on key performance standards of quality, privacy and security, as well as PMS vendor ICD-10 readiness
FARMINGTON, Conn. – January 20, 2015 The Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC), a non-profit standards development organization and accrediting body for organizations that electronically exchange healthcare data, announced today that GE Healthcare and NextGen Healthcare are the first two organizations to achieve accreditation under its Practice Management System Accreditation Program (PMSAP).
 
 Jointly developed with the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), PMSAP has been designed to serve as a third-party review and provide an additional level of assurance to the provider community during the evaluation process of PMS system vendors.
 

The accreditation program offers a comprehensive evaluation of practice management system (PMS) vendors in the areas of privacy, security, mandated standards and operating rules, and key operational functions. Additionally, the PMSAP assesses health information and oversight for meeting privacy and security, HIPAA and ACA requirements, as well as focuses on technical performance, business processes and resource management. Additionally, the program provides a review of the PMS vendor readiness to support and implement ICD-10 in 2015 and therefore a level of assurance to the provider community.

As beta participants throughout the consultative and consensus-driven process of program development, GE Healthcare and NextGen Healthcare were the first to undergo evaluation on their compliance with the criteria and receive full accreditation status for the two-year timeframe.

“As healthcare and its payment system becomes more complex, it is essential that providers rely on systems and solutions they can trust,” said Jon Zimmerman, vice president and general manager, Clinical Business Solutions at GE Healthcare. “In collaboration with the leadership of EHNAC and WEDI, we have taken another big step forward toward providing standards based solutions that providers can use with confidence to run their businesses. This is another demonstration of our commitment to our customers to provide leading solutions in uncertain times.”

“Building trust in the healthcare community is essential to moving healthcare forward and through our collaborative efforts with EHNAC, we are at the forefront of providing the necessary security and trust assurances to enable more secure, efficient and effective healthcare delivery,” said Michael Lovett, executive vice president and general manager for NextGen Healthcare. “Being the first to achieve EHNAC accreditation underscores our commitment to ensuring that client and patient privacy is a top priority.”

“As beta organizations for the PMS accreditation program, GE Healthcare and NextGen Healthcare’s collaboration and feedback have been vital components in the development of an industry-changing initiative,” said Lee Barrett, executive director of EHNAC. “The need to maintain high standards of privacy, security and confidentiality as a practice management system vendor is critical, to say the least. These organizations understand the value behind provider assurance in the quality and integrity of the companies with whom they entrust their data. We congratulate them both on their accreditation achievements.”

EHNAC accreditation recognizes excellence in health data processing and transactions, and confirms compliance with industry-established standards and HIPAA regulations. Visit www.ehnac.org for more details on PMSAP and the many other EHNAC accreditation programs.

About EHNAC

The Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) is a voluntary, self-governing standards development organization (SDO) established to develop standard criteria and accredit organizations that electronically exchange healthcare data. These entities include accountable care organizations, electronic health networks, EPCS vendors, eprescribing solution providers, financial services firms, health information exchanges, health information service providers, management service organizations, medical billers, outsourced service providers, payers, practice management system vendors and third-party administrators.

EHNAC was founded in 1993 and is a tax-exempt 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization. Guided by peer evaluation, the EHNAC accreditation process promotes quality service, innovation, cooperation and open competition in healthcare. To learn more, visitwww.ehnac.org, contact info@ehnac.org, or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn andYouTube.

January 20, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

CHIME Statement on Finalization of Meaningful Use ‘Modifications’ Rule

From Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO, President and CEO

This afternoon the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) finalized a regulation granting providers additional flexibility in meeting Meaningful Use (MU) requirements in 2014. However, the final rule lacked a key provision that would ensure continued EHR adoption and MU participation

CHIME is deeply disappointed in the decision made by CMS and ONC to require 365-days of EHR reporting in 2015. This single provision has severely muted the positive impacts of this final rule. Further, it has all but ensured that industry struggles will continue well beyond 2014.

Roughly 50% of EHs and CAHs were scheduled to meet Stage 2 requirements this year and nearly 85% of EHs and CAHs will be required to meet Stage 2 requirements in 2015. Most hospitals who take advantage of new pathways made possible through this final rule will not be in a position to meet Stage 2 requirements beginning October 1, 2014. This means that penalties avoided in 2014 will come in 2015, and millions of dollars will be lost due to misguided government timelines.

Nearly every stakeholder group echoed recommendations made by CHIME to give providers the option of reporting any three-month quarter EHR reporting period in 2015. This sensible recommendation, if taken, would have assuaged industry concerns over the pace and trajectory of rulemaking; it would have pushed providers to meet a higher bar, without pushing them off the cliff; and it would have ensured the long-term vitality of the program itself. Now, the very future of Meaningful Use is in question.

August 29, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

New CMS rule allows flexibility in certified EHR technology for 2014

Rule will help more providers use electronic health record technology

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a final rule today that allows health care providers more flexibility in how they use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology (CEHRT) to meet meaningful use for an EHR Incentive Program reporting period for 2014. By providing this flexibility, more providers will be able to participate and meet important meaningful use objectives like drug interaction and drug allergy checks, providing clinical summaries to patients, electronic prescribing, reporting on key public health data and reporting on quality measures.

“We listened to stakeholder feedback and provided CEHRT flexibility for 2014 to help ensure providers can continue to participate in the EHR Incentive Programs forward,” said Marilyn Tavenner, CMS administrator. “We were excited to see that there is overwhelming support for this change.”

Based on public comments and feedback from stakeholders, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) identified ways to help eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) implement and meaningfully use Certified EHR Technology. Specifically, eligible providers can use the 2011 Edition CEHRT or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition CEHRT for an EHR reporting period in 2014 for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs; All eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs are required to use the 2014 Edition CEHRT in 2015.

These updates to the EHR Incentive Programs support HHS’ commitment to implementing an effective health information technology infrastructure that elevates patient-centered care, improves health outcomes, and supports the providers that care for patients.

The rule also finalizes the extension of Stage 2 through 2016 for certain providers and announces the Stage 3 timeline, which will begin in 2017 for providers who first became meaningful EHR users in 2011 or 2012.

An updated meaningful use timeline and a chart with 2011 and 2014 CEHRT Edition options are available at http://cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2014-Press-releases-items/2014-08-29.html.

For more information about the EHR Incentive Programs, please visithttp://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms. For more information about CEHRT, please visit http://www.healthit.gov/certification.

I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

CHIME Supports New Pathways for Meaningful Use in 2014

Nation’s CIOs ask for swift finalization of proposed rule with ‘common sense’ amendments
ANN ARBOR, MI, June 30, 2014 – In comments submitted Friday, June 27 on proposed “Modifications to the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs for 2014,” the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) offered general support of program changes, but requested additional revisions and clarifications to maintain momentum of the federal initiative.

Comments from the professional association of healthcare CIOs and IT leaders said additional flexibility is needed because changes proposed for the Meaningful Use incentive program were only first released in late May, limiting the amount of time providers have to react to changes.

“CHIME supports the new pathways as defined in the proposed rule,” the letter read. “We believe these options will provide needed flexibility for EHR optimization, encourage continued participation in the program and help maintain the upward trajectory of EHR adoption in the US.”

One of CHIME’s primary requests is that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services allow providers to choose any three-month quarter for an EHR reporting period in the next federal fiscal year or calendar year to qualify for Meaningful Use in 2015. As currently structured, the program requires providers to report a full year of data to qualify for incentives.

“We believe this change will have a dramatically positive effect on program participation and policy outcomes sought in 2015,” CHIME’s comments noted. “The additional time afforded by this modification would help hundreds of thousands of providers meet Stage 2 requirements in an effective and safe manner.”

“We are grateful for the agencies’ acknowledgement that 2014 has been an extremely challenging year for the industry,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO.  “The new pathways created by this NPRM will enable many hospitals and physicians to capitalize on progress made to date. However, the benefits of this new flexibility will be immediately lost if 2015 reporting requirements are not tempered.  Carrying forward the 2014 policy requiring providers submit data covering one quarter of their choosing in 2015 is common sense.”

Additional flexibility is needed because of the continued industry-wide strain to implement information technology in time to meet ongoing requirements of the program, CHIME contended. “Because there is such limited capacity for the industry to absorb ongoing technology upgrades and process changes, CHIME implores CMS to allow 3-month quarter EHR reporting options in 2015.”

CHIME’s comments also asked that the agencies delete ambiguous attestation requirements related to the definition of “fully implemented” Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT). “A number of CHIME members have indicated their apprehension to take advantage of the new pathways created by this NPRM (because of) how this proposed rule defines ‘full implementation’ of CEHRT since the examples do not adequately represent their situation,” CHIME stated.

“Given the industry’s experience with Meaningful Use audits, there is a lot of anxiety over how such a requirement would be validated,” said CHIME Board Chair Randy McCleese, FCHIME, LCHIME, CHCIO, Vice President of Information Services and CIO at Moorhead, Kentucky-based St. Claire Regional Medical Center.  “The fear generated by meaningless audits can be crippling for small and rural organizations like ours. Ambiguity in what constitutes ‘full CEHRT implementation’ defeats the primary intent of this NPRM – namely, to encourage continued participation in the program.”

Overall, CHIME believes “these new pathways will provide much-needed relief to hundreds of thousands of providers struggling to meet MU requirements in 2014, due to circumstances beyond their control,” but CHIME is asking agencies to “explicitly state its intentions to let providers meet MU requirements retrospectively in 2014, if they are able.”

Finally, CHIME offered its support of the one-year extension of Stage 2 for providers that first qualified as meaningful users of EHR technology in 2011 and 2012. “This is a necessary extension to give policymakers time to evaluate past experience and incorporate lessons learned into the third Stage of Meaningful Use,” CHIME stated.

“From Day One, CHIME has been an adamant supporter of Meaningful Use, and we remain supporters to this day,” said Branzell. “Our comments and recommendations are pragmatic and meant to ensure that industry, government and taxpayer investments are properly managed.  We are confident that if CMS makes these common sense changes, we can realize the benefits of a modern, connected healthcare system.”

The full text of CHIME’s response to the proposed modifications to the Meaningful Use program can be found at http://www.cio-chime.org/advocacy/resources/download/CHIME_Response_to_Modifications_MU_2014_Final.pdf

About CHIME
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving chief information officers and other senior healthcare IT leaders. With more than 1,400 CIO members and more than 130 healthcare IT vendors and professional services firms, CHIME provides a highly interactive, trusted environment enabling senior professional and industry leaders to collaborate; exchange best practices; address professional development needs; and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and healthcare in the communities they serve. For more information, please visit www.cio-chime.org.

June 30, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

CMS Rule to Change EHR Certification Requirement and Meaningful Use Stage 2 Schedule

Rule also proposes to extend Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs through 2016

Today, HHS published a new proposed rule that would provide eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals more flexibility in how they use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology (CEHRT) to meet meaningful use. The proposed rule, from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), would let providers use the 2011 Edition CEHRT or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition CEHRT for the EHR reporting period in 2014 for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

Beginning in 2015, all eligible hospitals and professionals would still be required to report using 2014 Edition CEHRT. Since the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs began in 2011, more than 370,000 hospitals and professionals nationwide have received an incentive payment.

“We have seen tremendous participation in the EHR Incentive Programs since they began,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “By extending Stage 2, we are being receptive to stakeholder feedback to ensure providers can continue to meet meaningful use and keep momentum moving forward.”

The proposed rule also includes a provision that would formalize CMS and ONC’s previously stated intention to extend Stage 2 through 2016 and begin Stage 3 in 2017. These proposed changes would address concerns raised by stakeholders and will encourage the continued adoption of Certified EHR Technology.

“Increasing the adoption of EHRs is key to improving the nation’s health care system and the steps we are taking today will give new options to those who, through no fault of their own, have been unable to get the new 2014 Edition technology, including those at high risk, such as smaller providers and rural hospitals,” said Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H, M.Sc., national coordinator for health information technology.

Proposed changes to meaningful use timeline

New Meaningful Use and EHR Certification Timelines - Meaningful Use Stage 2 Delay

For more information about the EHR Incentive Programs, please visit http://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms. For more information about CEHRT, please visit http://www.healthit.gov.

May 20, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Patient Education Reference Center™ Certified to Meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 Criteria

~ Point-of-Care Resource is certified as an Electronic Health Record Module for Both Inpatient and Ambulatory Settings ~

IPSWICH, Mass. — May 16, 2014 — Patient Education Reference Center (PERC) from EBSCO Health has been certified as an Electronic Health Record (EHR) Module for both Inpatient and Ambulatory settings. PERC is compliant with the ONC 2014 Edition criteria and supports Stage 2 Meaningful Use measures required for funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

PERC provides health care professionals with evidence-based patient handouts that can be customized, printed and given to a patient at the point of care. The health care provider is able to go into a patient’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and click on the Infobutton for any diagnosis, medication or lab within a given record to access relevant patient education documents for the specific patient. The materials can then be printed, saved to a patient record and/or posted to a patient portal record.

The PERC certification is in accordance with the applicable Hospital and Eligible Providers certification criteria adopted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The ONC 2014 Edition criteria support both Stage 1 and 2 Meaningful Use measures required to qualify eligible providers and hospitals for funding under ARRA.

EBSCO Vice President of Medical Product Management and Chief Content Officer Betsy Jones says that by meeting Meaningful Use Stage 2 Criteria and providing access to patient education content via the HL7 Infobutton Standard, PERC is now even more of an asset for healthcare providers. “PERC has always helped health care professionals by providing customized handouts that can be given to a patient at the point-of-care. Now PERC allows providers to continue to provide the valuable information conveniently through EMRs while also helping institutions comply with Meaningful Use requirements.”

The handouts provided by PERC are easy to read, include illustrations, and are structured to enhance patient knowledge and understanding of material. Topics covered include more than 4,000 common and chronic diseases and conditions; over 750 specific procedures and lab tests; more than 2,800 lifestyle and wellness topics; over 1,500 unique drugs (more than 8,000 brand and generic names); and discharge and home care information for more than 1,000 related topics. For more information on PERC visit http://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/patient-education-reference-center.

EBSCO Health, a part of EBSCO Information Services, has several point-of-care resources that integrate evidence-based content into EMR systems. In addition to PERC, valuable clinical content is available from DynaMedNursing Reference Center andRehabilitation Reference Center.

About EBSCO Health
EBSCO Health, part of EBSCO Information Services, is a leading provider of clinical decision support solutions, healthcare business intelligence, and medical research information for the healthcare industry. EBSCO Health users include professionals in medicine, nursing, and allied health. Flagship products include CINAHL®DynaMed,Nursing Reference Center, clinical e-books and e-journals, EBSCO Discovery Service, licensed databases (such as MEDLINE®), plus EBSCONET®. EBSCO databases are powered by EBSCOhost®, the electronic resource favored by libraries around the world.

About EBSCO Information Services

EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) is the world’s premier database aggregator, offering a suite of more than 375 full-text and secondary research databases. Through a library of tens of thousands of full-text journals, magazines, books, monographs, reports and various other publication types from renowned publishers, EBSCO serves the content needs of all medical professionals (doctors, nurses, medical librarians, social workers, hospital administrators, etc.). The company’s product lines include proprietary databases such as CINAHL®DynaMedNursing Reference CenterPatient Education Reference CenterRehabilitation Reference CenterRehabilitation & Sports Medicine Source and SocINDEX as well as dozens of leading licensed databases such as MEDLINE®PsycARTICLES® and PsycINFO®. Databases are powered by EBSCOhost®, the most-used for-fee electronic resource in libraries around the world. For more information, visit the EBSCO website at: www.ebsco.com.

May 16, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.