More than 11,000 ODs have already registered for the Meaningful Use Program, but many practices are hesitant to get started. Whether you're still contemplating adopting an EHR or just don't know how to get started, you're not alone. The purpose of the program is to make healthcare more consistent and transparent with the use of electronic health records (EHRs). Taking advantage of the Meaningful Use Incentive Program will not only be a positive decision for your practice, but you also have the opportunity to receive payments from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. So how can you get started?
Meaningful Use Criteria Checklist
A Plan to Begin
Optometrists and ophthalmologists qualify as eligible professionals for the Medicare or Medicaid Incentive Program. Most eye doctors will only be eligible for the Medicare Incentive Program, so your first step is to check your eligibility.
Now it's time to get started, but remember that you must start by 2014 in order to be eligible to receive incentive payments. If you begin this year, you are still eligible to receive $39,000. And if you wait until 2014, you can still earn up to $24,000!
If you are eligible and choose not to participate by 2015, your practice will be penalized. You will receive lower reimbursements for care provided to Medicare patients. So make sure to check your eligibility and get started as soon as possible.
A Certified EHR
If you are meaningfully using an EHR at your practice there are many benefits you will experience. Your practice will be more efficient and you will be able to provide better patient care. Some of the benefits you can expect to see are:
- Reduction of errors by receiving clinical decision support and accessing accurate coding and billing information
- Communication improvements between various systems making it convenient for patients visiting multiple doctors
- Reduced staff resources needed for patient management, reduced billing errors, and saving money on supplies needed to maintain paper files
- Greater efficiencies by cutting down on mundane administrative tasks, like faxing
Even if you are not interested in Meaningful Use, a certified EHR will allow you to participate in other programs such as the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and the Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH).
Register for the Incentive Program
Once you have decided to participate in the program, it's time to register. In order to register you will need:
- National Provider Identifier Number
- National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) account
- Active PECOS account
After registering you will be able to check your eligibility and determine other issues that could interfere or delay your participation.
Meet the Requirements
In order to receive a payment there are several measures you must meet during Stage 1 of the program which include:
- 15 Core Objectives
- 5 out of 10 Menu Objectives
- 6 Clinical Quality Measures (CQM): 3 Core CQMs and 3 out of 38 additional CQMs
You must meet these requirements for 90 days in year 1 and a full year in year 2, and then you are ready for attestation.
Complete Stage 1 Attestation
The attestation is a legal document that proves you have met all of the Meaningful Use criteria for the incentive program. During this process, you will answer yes/no questions and report the percentages met on the Stage 1 Requirements. Once you submit your attestation, you will immediately receive notification if you have met the core and menu objectives of the program. If you are successful you should start receiving your EHR incentive payment 4-8 weeks after submitting the attestation. However, if you are not successful you are able to edit any information that may have been entered incorrectly or resubmit at a later date for a different 90-day period.
Depending on which year you begin reporting, you will report on CQMs differently. If you are currently in the process, you will either go through the same attestation as above or use Electronic Reporting Pilots through Physician Quality Report System (PQRS). If you have not started yet and plan to get going in 2014, you have to use the new criteria. The CMS will provide a set of electronic specifications for Clinical Quality Measures (eCQMs) in which you will complete multiple parts which will allow certified EHR technology systems to be programmed to accurately capture, calculate, and report CQMs.
Once your attestation is successful, you will start to receive your incentive payments. The amounts will differ depending on which year you begin participating. Remember: since you are receiving money from the government, there is a chance you may be audited during any stage of the program. Make sure you are prepared in case you do get audited, there's no need to panic!
Begin Stage 2 Attestation in 2014
Once you have completed Stage 1, it is a wise decision to follow through with the entire Meaningful Use Program. If you have already begun the meaningful use process, Stage 2 will be available to you in 2014. The stage 2 requirements are:
- 17 Core Objectives
- 3 Menu Objectives
- 12 Clinical Quality Measures: 9 out of 64 Clinical Quality Measures and 3 out of 6 additional clinical quality measures
Keep in mind that during this stage you will have to demonstrate Meaningful Use for a larger portion of your patient population.
There are many benefits for utilizing the Meaningful Use Incentive Program, but if you don't start soon you will lose out on receiving the incentive payments. Adopting an EHR for your practice will help it run more smoothly leading to happier patients and employees and even make you more money in the long run. Don't wait any longer and register for the incentive program today!
Still hesitant? If you haven't yet, download our free eBook for more details about the Meaningful Use Incentive Program and see how you can benefit.