EHR Meaningful Use: How to Prepare for Stage 1

October 18, 2013
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EHR MU How to prepareEHRs, also known as electronic health records, offer tremendous benefits for both healthcare providers and their patients, as long as they are being use

EHR MU How to prepareEHRs, also known as electronic health records, offer tremendous benefits for both healthcare providers and their patients, as long as they are being used effectively.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provides incentive payments to eligible professionals that can demonstrate that they meet Meaningful Use (MU) standards for certain EHR technology.  The earlier that your practice qualifies to receive EHR incentive payments, the more money you stand to earn: if you qualify to earn your first payment this year, you can still get paid as much as $39,000 through 2016, not counting the maximum $780 loss, due to the effect of sequestration on Medicare payments.

However, to receive these incentives you must show that you meet EHR standards for a reporting period of 90 continuous days during the first year.  This means your EHR system must be installed and ready to go on October 3rd to meet the 90-day requirement.  After this initial phase, your next reporting period is one year.  There are several things to do to prepare for Stage 1 of the Meaningful Use:

Identify Which Criteria Apply To Your Practice

There are different criteria depending on whether or not you are looking to achieve Meaningful Use (MU) for a hospital or healthcare professional.  CMS offers guidelines about the requirements for Stage 1 of Meaningful Use on their website.  Eligible professionals have 24 meaningful use objectives. After determining which objectives apply to your practice, you can then determine which steps you will need to take to get your practice in compliance with these objectives.

Understanding The Requirement For Meeting Objectives

Eligible professionals have to meet 15 out of the 24 core objectives as well as 5 out of 10 specific menu items and 6 Clinical Quality Measures.  Not every objective will be applicable to your practice, and these exclusions do not count against your practice when it comes to calculating how many objectives you must meet.  For specific information about the exact type of criteria that will apply to your office, visit the educational resources page that CMS offers for eligible professionals that are curious about what exact things they must achieve to meet the specific measures that apply to them.

Be Aware Of Meaningful Use Denominators

For many of the core objectives that are in place to meet Meaningful Use (MU) standards, professionals have to have a certain percentage of actions that meet the standards put in place by these objectives.  The two types of denominators that are used to demonstrate Meaningful Use are all patients that are seen during the period when reporting takes place, and subsets or actions of patients seen during this reporting period who already have records kept using EHR technology.  Understanding the denominators will make it easier for you to take the necessary actions to meet both core and menu objectives.

Image courtesy of: Ambro/ Freedigitalphotos.net

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