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FREE CMS Webinar on CEHRT for Small Practices

Posted by Matthew Smith on Oct 6, 2014 4:58:00 PM

CMS, EHREvent: 

CMS 2014 Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) Flexibility Rule Overview



Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Time: 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Eastern Time



  • CMS 2014 CEHRT Flexibility Rule overview
  • Stage 2 extension
  • 2014 flexibility options
  • Attestation System updates
  • CMS responses to public comments
  • Resources
  • Q&A


This webinar provides PAHCOM members with an overview of the 2014 Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) Flexibility Rule that went into effect on October 1, 2014. While directed at PAHCOM members, all are welcome and anyone focused on medical office management will benefit.

This presentation will cover guidance and instructions on how eligible professionals who have been unable to fully implement 2014 Edition CEHRT for an EHR reporting period in 2014 due to delays in 2014 Edition CEHRT availability can use the rule’s flexibility to report for 2014. The presentation also provides information about the extension of Stage 2 through 2016. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.


Vidya Sellappan, HIT Initiatives Group, Office of E-Health Standards and Services

Register now as space is limited -

Topics: Meaningful Use, CMS, CEHRT, PAHCOM, Stage 2

CHIME Weighs in on Proposed Meaningful Use Changes in 2014

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jul 2, 2014 4:29:00 PM

CHIME, Meaningful Use,The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) has a handful of recommendations for the two federal agencies within the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) responsible for the proposed changes to meaningful use in 2014.

In late May, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) notified eligible providers in the EHR Incentive Programs that modifications to meaningful use 2014 were on the way with the purpose of providing greater flexibility to participating hospitals and physicians.

At the time, the leaders of CHIME made clear its concerns about the timing of the propose rule modifying meaningful use in 2014 — that is, if eligible hospitals (EHs) would be able to benefit from the rule. The association has now reiterated those concerns, urging CMS and ONC to move swiftly in finalizing the rule along with incorporating certain changes.

First, CHIME is recommending that CMS explicitly state whether eligible providers will be covered retroactively in 2014 and especially significant concern for EPs and critical access hospitals (CAHs) for which July 1 represents the start of the last available reporting period in 2014, a date that will come well before the proposed rule is finalized. Additionally, providers should have the option to report clinical quality measures of their choosing no matter the stage of meaningful use they are in.

Second, the association wants to see the 3-month quarterly periods be used as part of meaningful use in reporting year 2015. “Most providers who take advantage of the flexibilities proposed in this NPRM will need to report on Stage 2 measures and objectives in 2015, and most of these providers will not be in a position to report a full year of data, beginning October 1, 2014,” CHIME states.

Third, CHIME is seeking clarification around the implementation of 2014 Edition certified EHR technology (CEHRT):

There is widespread concern among CIOs that program auditors will be overly zealous in determining what implementation and workflow changes merit the ability to take advantage of the new flexibility. We appreciate the examples listed in this proposed rule and would urge CMS to give EHs and CAHs additional confidence by expanding those examples to include scenarios “outside the provider’s control” such as an underdeveloped ecosystem of exchange participants to receive summaries of care for transitions of care.

Lastly, CHIME is throwing its support behind the proposed one-year extension of Stage 2 Meaningful Use for providers who demonstrated meaningful use successfully in 2011 and 2012.

The comment period for the proposed rule closes on July 21, 2014 at 11:59PM ET. So far more than 400 comments have been received.

Meaningful Use, Stage 1, Stage 2, EHR, EMR

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, Stage 2, CHIME

Don’t Miss the Chance to Earn EHR Incentive Payments

Posted by Matthew Smith on Apr 16, 2014 11:46:00 AM
EHR, EMR, Electronic Health Record, Meaningful UseEligible Professionals Must Start Medicare EHR Participation in 2014 to Earn Incentives

If you are an eligible professional for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, 2014 is the last year you can start participation in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program in order to receive incentive payments.

Eligible professionals who begin participation in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program after 2014 will not be able to earn an incentive payment for that year or any subsequent year of participation.

If you choose to participate in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program for the first time in 2014, you should begin your 90-day reporting period no later than July 1, 2014 and submit attestation by October 1, 2014 in order to avoid the payment adjustment in 2015.

Note: October 1 is the attestation deadline for eligible professionals in their first year of participation to avoid the payment adjustment. However, eligible professionals who miss this deadline can still demonstrate meaningful use during the last 90-day reporting period of the year (October - December 2014) and earn an incentive payment for 2014.

Providers Who First Begin Participation in 2014 must:

To Earn Your Maximum Medicare Incentive

  • Demonstrate 90 days of Stage 1 of meaningful use in 2014 to earn up to $11,760.
  • Demonstrate a full year of Stage 1 of meaningful use in 2015 to earn up to $7,840.
  • Demonstrate a full year of Stage 2 of meaningful use in 2016 to earn up to $3,920.

If you successfully demonstrate meaningful use each year beginning in 2014, your total payment amount could be as much as $23,520.

Additional Resources

The EHR Incentive Program website offers several helpful tools and resources so you can successfully begin participation:

Meaningful Use, Stage 1, Stage 2, EHR, EMR

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, CMS, Electronic Health Record, Stage 1, Patient Engagement, Stage 2

New Download: Meaningful Use In 2014--Changes to Stage 1 & Challenges for Stage 2

Posted by Matthew Smith on Mar 19, 2014 11:45:00 AM

Download, Meaningful Use, EHR, Stage 1, Stage 2CMS published a final rule that specifies the Stage 2 criteria that eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) must meet in order to continue to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. All providers must achieve meaningful use under the Stage 1 criteria before moving to Stage 2.

This new download from Health Directions will help readers learn about the changes to Stage 1 in 2014 and understand the challenges confronting providers in Stage 2.

Specific content includes:

  • Updated stateus of CMS EHR Incentive Program
  • Financial Impact of Non-Participation in the EHR Incentive Program
  • Changes to EMR Technology Certification
  • Stage 1 Changes
  • Stage 2 Overview
  • Core Measures: Stage 1 vs. Stage 2
  • Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs)
  • CQM Reporting Period
  • Reporting Options for Providers
  • Stage 2 Challenges and Solutions
  • Implementing a Patient Portal
  • Engaging Your Patients
  • Changing Behavior
  • Program Audits

Simply click the button, below, to access the download.

Meaningful Use, Stage 1, Stage 2, EHR, EMR

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, CMS, Stage 1, Patient Engagement, CQM, Stage 2

What CMS is Saying About Stage 2 Meaningful Use at HIMSS14

Posted by Matthew Smith on Feb 25, 2014 12:56:00 PM

Stage 2, Meaningful Use, EHR, Health DirectionsAt HIMSS14, the message from healthcare organizations and professionals about the EHR Incentive Programs is clear and consistent: those working to implement all the changes required of federal health IT initiatives want more time to complete their tasks.

From ICD-10 to Stage 2 Meaningful Use, they are petitioning the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to provide flexibility. Although these calls for action may not lead to the desired end, CMS and other agencies are listening.

“We have definitely heard that and are implementing more flexibility,” Elizabeth Holland, Director of the HIT Initiative Group in the Office of E- Health Standards and Services at CMS, told about the feedback the federal agency has received from providers about the EHR Incentive Program for Medicare, particularly Stage 2 Meaningful Use. “We are looking at flexibility options. We’re working very closely with our lawyers to see how much flexibility we have. We’re really looking to see what we can possibly do.”

It is not just the interactions with attendees at HIMSS14 or the public advocacy on the part of healthcare associations that have caught the attention of CMS. There are also the results of Stage 1 Meaningful Use. Trends in attestation show just how ready eligible professionals (EPs) and hospitals (EHs) are for the next phase of meaningful use.

“For me, the most interesting part is that we have had a whole lot of people coming in for the first time,” Holland explains. “It’s well over 20,000 and I wouldn’t have thought that so many people would have waited until the very end to attest for the first time with all these returning people coming in as well. We’re happy with the volume. But how high is it going to go; how many people are going to come in?”

With so many eligible providers coming in at the end, how likely are they to be ready for Stage 2 Meaningful Use? The answer is not very. But it’s not entirely the fault of providers. Without EHR technology certified for Stage 2, EPs and EHs cannot achieve meaningful use.

“One of the things we were worried about is the deployment of the 2014 products,” continues Holland. “We’ve looked to see if people are attesting for 2014 yet, and we’ve had some hospitals that have attested for 2014 but for Stage 1 — so new hospitals coming on. We haven’t had people come in for Stage 2 yet.”

If 2014 Edition certified EHR technology is not available to providers, how can that be held against them? According to Holland, a plan is in the works for these EPs and EHs to claim a hardship exemption. “We just had a change to our hardship exception form — that we explicitly added that to the form. Before it was hard to understand that you could fit into a category so it’s much more clearly spelled out on the form,” she reveals.

And that flexibility shouldn’t be limited to this next phase of meaningful use. It will influence Stage 3 Meaningful Use as well.

“At this point, Stage 3 has been pushed out, but that’s really from the practical point,” says Holland. “People are still doing Stage 2 certification and if we all of a sudden start pushing too hard on Stage 3, people are really going to be pushed. We don’t have any experience yet from Stage 2 to know and inform our development of Stage 3.”

While the legislation is expected to appear in the fall, its importance pales in comparison to the emphasis being placed on the health IT initiatives bearing down on health systems, hospitals, and physician practices right now. Perhaps the good news is that federal agencies are listening and looking to assist them.

EHR, Meaningful Use, Electronic Health System

Topics: Meaningful Use, CMS, ICD-10, Stage 2

New Download: Optimizing Your EMR & Engaging Your Patients

Posted by Matthew Smith on Feb 3, 2014 10:29:00 AM

EHR, Meaningful UseIf You’re Not Meeting Meaningful Use, You May Be Leaving Money on the Table

Eligible providers who meet Meaningful Use criteria may receive up to $24,000 (Medicare) or may receive up to $63,750 (Medicaid). That’s a lot of incentive dollars to leave behind—especially if you’re already operating on an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system.

This complimentary download from Health Directions will help you to:

  • Learn how to optimize your EMR and successfully participate in the CMS EHR Incentive Program
  • Understand the differences between Stage 1 and Stage 2 requirements
  • Prepare for the 2014 changes, including how to engage your patients
To download the guide, click the button, below, share some general information, and you will be directed to the presentation that you may view or download by right-clicking and saving to your computer.
EHR, Meaningful Use, Electronic Health System

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, Electronic Health Record, Electronic Medical Record, Patient Engagement, Stage 2

Free EHR Breakfast Seminar for Independent Physicians & Staff: Jan. 23rd | Suburban Chicago

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jan 17, 2014 4:14:00 PM

Independent Physician Advisors, EHRJoin the Independent Physician Advisors on Thursday, January 23rd at 7:30 am in Oakbrook Terrace for a complimentary breakfast and seminar: Optimizing Your EHR & Engaging Your Patients--Preparing for Stage 2 Meaningful Use.

If You’re Not Meeting Meaningful Use, You May Be Leaving Money on the Table

Eligible providers who meet Meaningful Use criteria may receive up to $24,000 (Medicare) or may receive up to $63,750 (Medicaid). That’s a lot of incentive dollars to leave behind—especially if you’re already operating on an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to optimize your EMR and successfully participate in the CMS EHR Incentive Program
  • Understand the differences between Stage 1 and Stage 2 requirements
  • Prepare for the 2014 changes, including how to engage your patients

Presented by:

Carmina Nitzki
Managing Associate
Health Directions

Lori Miller
Tooty, Inc.


7:30am    Hot Breakfast & Networking
8:00am    Presentation 
9:30am    Q&A and open networking


Redstone American Grill
13 Lincoln Center
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
(630) 268-0313


Athena Health


This event is complimentary, however advanced registration is required. We ask that attendance be limited to independent physicians and their office staff.

To register for this event, please click the button, below:


Topics: EHR, Meaningful Use, Electronic Health Records, Independent Physician Advisors, Patient Engagement, Stage 2

Industry Stakeholders Weigh in on Adjusted Meaningful Use Timeline

Posted by Matthew Smith on Dec 10, 2013 1:20:00 PM

Meaningful UseIndustry stakeholders have begun to comment on CMS' decision to adjust the timeline of the meaningful use program.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.


On Friday, federal officials announced that CMS has proposed delaying the start of Stage 3 of the meaningful use program, while the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has proposed adjustments to its certification process.

Under CMS' revised meaningful use timeline:

  • Stage 2 would be extended through 2016; and
  • Stage 3 would begin in 2017 for health care providers who have completed at least two years in Stage 2 of the program.

Notices of proposed rulemaking expected to be released by CMS and ONC in the fall of 2014 will offer additional details on the new proposed timeline.

The final rule on Stage 3 of the meaningful use program is expected to be released in the first half of 2015 (iHealthBeat, 12/6).

CHIME's Reaction

Russell Branzell, CEO of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, said the group is "pleased that ONC and CMS in particular have provided some flexibility for Stage 3 and back-end Stage 2 deployment of software" (Hagland, Healthcare Informatics, 12/6).

However, CHIME confirmed with CMS that the announcement will not delay the start date for Stage 2 of the meaningful use program (Goedert, Health Data Management, 12/7).

In a release, CHIME stated that the proposed Stage 2 extension and Stage 3 delay "does not change front-end requirements for meaningful use in 2014 and does not afford much needed flexibility to providers working to install and upgrade new technology" (CHIME release, 12/6).

"We still believe there's going to be a pressure point in 2014 for ICD-10 and Stage 2," Branzell said, adding, "CHIME still wants to ensure that those eligible hospitals and providers that need flexible timing to meet the requirements of ICD-10 and Stage 2 can do it in a reasonable sequencing" (Healthcare Informatics, 12/6).

Branzell said that CHIME will continue to work with CMS and lawmakers in hopes to shift reporting periods and increase flexibility for providers trying to comply with meaningful use and ICD-10 requirements (Health Data Management, 12/7).

HIMSS' Reaction

In a statement, Thomas Leary -- vice president for government relations at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society -- said that group was "gratified" by the decision to extend Stage 2 of the meaningful use program by one year.

However, HIMSS soon amended its statement to note that, "After further analysis of the government's decision to extend meaningful use Stage 2 through 2016, we believe our call for action to extend year 1 of the meaningful use Stage 2 attestation period still needs to be addressed." 

The group said it will "call on the government to address the timeline and allow at least 18 months in which eligible hospitals and eligible providers can attest to meaningful use requirements for one quarter" (McCann, Healthcare IT News, 12/6).

Topics: EHR, Meaningful Use, CMS, Stage 2

Stage 2 Guide for the EHR Incentive Programs Now Available

Posted by Matthew Smith on Oct 3, 2013 1:04:00 PM

CMS, EHR, Stage 2CMS has released a new resource, An Eligible Professional’s Guide to Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs, which provides a comprehensive overview of Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs to eligible professionals. The guide outlines criteria for Stage 2 meaningful use, 2014 clinical quality measure reporting, and 2014 EHR certification.

The guide is intended to provide eligible professionals (EPs) with an overview of Stage 2 of meaningful use. The guide discusses changes to meaningful use objectives and to Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs), and the overall goals of Stage 2 including:

  • Measures focused on more rigorous health information exchange (HIE)
  • Additional requirements for e-prescribing and incorporating lab results
  • Electronic transmission of patient care summaries across multiple settings
  • Increased patient and family engagement

As Stage 2 starts in January, 2014, CMS includes an important reminder – all providers must upgrade or adopt newly certified EHRs in 2014 and regardless of their stage of meaningful use,  are only required to demonstrate meaningful use for a three-month (or 90-day) EHR reporting period in 2014

View or download a PDF of the guide here.

Topics: EHR, Meaningful Use, CMS, HIT, Health IT, HITECH, Stage 2

17 U.S. Senators Ask HHS to Extend Stage 2 Meaningful Use

Posted by Matthew Smith on Sep 26, 2013 2:13:00 PM

Meaningful Use, SenateSeventeen Republican U.S. Senators have sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelieus making a compelling argument for implementing a one-year extension to Stage 2 of the electronic health records meaningful use program.

Here is text of the letter, dated September 24:


“Dear Madam Secretary:

“The Electronic Health Records Meaningful Use Incentive Program has played a significant role in advancing the adoption of health information technology across the country. However, given the feedback from stakeholders on the timing of Stage 2 of the program, we respectfully request an extension of Stage 2 by one year for providers who need extra time to meet the new requirements. Providers who are ready to attest to Stage 2 in 2014 should be able to do so consistent with current policy.

“Starting in 2014, eligible hospitals and eligible professionals participating in the EHR incentive program for Medicare will have to progress to new Stage 2 regulatory standards in order to demonstrate growth in the use of EHR technology. All eligible hospitals and professionals will have to demonstrate achievement of Stage 2 meaningful use objectives for any quarter-based 90-day period of either Fiscal Year 2014 for hospitals or Calendar Year 2014 for physicians in order to avoid penalties in 2016. This requirement applies to those who began Stage 1 in 2012 or earlier. However, even providers that began Stage 1 in 2013 or will attest for the first time in 2014 will have to use 2014 Edition Certified EHRs to satisfy the revised set of Stage 1 objectives.

“Therefore, based on a wide range of feedback from providers, vendors and other stakeholders, we identity three key problems with the current timeline for Stage 2.

“First, we are concerned that the regulatory structure of the program has created significant time pressure in 2014, and progressing to Stage 2 may not be feasible for all participants. In one year, over 500,000 hospitals and physicians are required to upgrade their existing technology to demonstrate new standards of ‘meaningful use’ by the end of 2014 in order to be eligible for the corresponding incentive payments. Further, the vendors are under tremendous time pressures to ensure their products are certified for the 2014 Edition criteria and have sufficient time to upgrade their products for each hospital or physician client. This time pressure has raised questions about whether such a short period for Stage 2 is in the best long-term interest of the program.

“Second, we are concerned that the onset of Stage 2 may further widen the digital divide for small and rural providers who lack the resources of large practices and may not be vendors’ top priorities. Even if certified products are available to them, simply receiving the software update does not satisfy meaningful use requirements for a hospital or eligible provider. They also need assistance learning how to use the new technology and time to address how they will achieve the new standards of meaningful use.

“Third, an artificially aggressive Stage 2 timeline may have serious unintended consequences such as stifling innovation and increasing medical errors. Innovation in health information technology could be hampered, since vendors do not have the time to introduce administrative flexibility into their EHRs to best serve diverse practices. Medical errors could be increased inadvertently, because rushing through upgrades could introduce new risks in the technology that could cause errors or patient safety problems.

“If the goal is to improve care by achieving broad and meaningful utilization of EHRs, providing sufficient time to ensure a safe, orderly transition through Stage 2 is critical to having stakeholder buy-in, a necessary component of long-term success.

“We are not suggesting a delay of Stage 2 and the progress we have seen to date. Providers who are ready to transition to Stage 2 should do so and should receive incentive payments in 2014 and 2015 consistent with current policy. However, providers that are not yet ready to transition to Stage 2 should have a one-year extension before they must demonstrate Stage 2 meaningful use, consequently mitigating the threat of penalties while still abiding by the statutory deadlines.

“In future efforts, continued focus on achieving interoperability is critical. We believe that for this program to ultimately be successful, heeding stakeholder feedback on the current progress to achieving interoperability is imperative. It is critical to continue holding vendors accountable for providing products that advance the ability for unaffiliated providers to share information.

“We appreciate your attention to this request and urge you to move quickly with a decision so stakeholders have the clarity and certainty they need to plan. We look forward to your response by October 8, 2013.”

Signers of the letter were Sens. John Thune, Lamar Alexander, Tom Coburn, Mike Enzi, Richard Burr, Pat Roberts, Johnny Isakson, Patrick Toomey, Rob Portman, Mark Kirk, Saxby Chambliss, Jerry Moran, James Risch, John Barrasso, Lisa Murkowski, Daniel Coats and Roger Wicker.

EHR, Meaningful Use, Stage 2

Topics: EHR, Meaningful Use, Electronic Health Records, HIT, Health IT, Stage 2, US Senate

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