There was much more EHR/EMR and Healthcare IT news this week following the July 4th holiday, especially with issues concerning Meaningful Use. Providers looking to receive their full share of Meaningful Use incentive funds from the government should pay close attention to the Meaningful Use rulings, and be sure to take a personal initiative. And those seeking a hardship exemption from the 2012 e-Prescribing Act now have recourse to do so.
Don’t Wait for the Final Rule for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use — Start Preparing Now!
While Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules have yet to be finalized, it would behoove all practices to meet the currently proposed Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules, that we have outlined in previous EHR blog posts, titled: Stage 2 Meaningful Use Changes the Format for Exchanging Patient Health Records, Meaningful Use Stage 2 Proposed Rules Open Comment Period, and Meaningful Use Stage 2 NPRM for Health Information Technology (HIT). By at least meeting the current proposed Stage 2 Meaningful Use Rules, providers can be assured that they will be far ahead of the curve, and prepared for whatever the final Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules may be.
MediTouch users need not worry; HealthFusion already meets the proposed Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules and will meet the final rule whenever it is released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). So take some initiative and make sure your practice and EHR/EMR vendor is prepared for Meaningful Use Stage 2.
Draft of Meaningful Use Stage 3 Rule May Be Released in August
Although the final rule for Meaningful Use Stage 2 has yet to be released, preparation for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use is already underway. The Meaningful Use Work Group of the National Coordinator of Health IT plans to release a draft of their recommendations for Meaningful Use Stage 3 in August. To prevent the past issues and delays associated with the first and second stages of Meaningful Use, the work group hopes to publish their recommendations by August 1 so a request for public comment can be released by November. This will hopefully ensure that the final rule for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use can be published by May 2013.
As with Meaningful Use Stage 2, providers should take an initiative to voice their opinions during the open comment period for Stage 3. Many providers who are still unprepared for Meaningful Use Stage 2 most likely failed to make their opinions known during the open comment period, and are now suffering the consequences. As usual, HealthFusion MediTouch users need not worry, just as we are prepared for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, so too will we be prepared for Stage 3.
Extra Month for Doctors to Claim Hardship Extension for e-Prescribing Requirement
As our founder and CEO, Dr. Seth Flam, warned in a previous blog post titled, Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Lost in Penalties — Is that motivation enough?, not prescribing electronically (eRx) in 2012 could result in monetary penalties from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). According to the original rule, providers needed to e-prescribe a minimum of 10 times between January 1 and June 30 of 2012 to avoid the CMS penalty. However, doctors may now apply for a one-time significant-hardship exemption from the 2012 e-prescribing penalty. The following are grounds for the one-time eRx penalty exemption:
- Unable to e-prescribe due to local, state, or federal laws
- Limited prescribing activity
- Prescriptions provided following surgery not associated with a billable office visit
- Rural practices without sufficient access to high-speed Internet
- Practices located in an area with insufficient e-prescribing pharmacies
MediTouch users should be fine, as HealthFusion has allowed MediTouch EHR users the ability to e-prescribe for quite some time. But those providers who are still facing a penalty for lack of e-prescribing should not overlook the generous, one-time exemption from CMS. After 2012, the potential penalty for not prescribing electronically only continues to grow. Once again, it is up to doctors to take the initiative to make sure they meet CMS e-prescribing guidelines.