Archive for February, 2015

CMS Extends Attestation Deadline for CY 2014 Meaningful Use

February 25, 2015 Leave a comment

On February 25, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an extension to the attestation deadline for Medicare EHR Incentive Program reporting periods that occurred in calendar year (CY) 2014. Participants now have until March 20, 2015 to complete the online attestation process for their CY 2014 meaningful use (MU) compliance.

CMS recommended attesting during non-peak hours (evenings and weekends) well in advance of the deadline. For help, contact the CMS’ EHR Information Center at 1-888-734-6433, Monday-Friday, 8:30AM-7:30PM (ET).


Deadlines in the Medicaid version of the program are not necessarily impacted by this extension.

The PQRS submission deadlines for the “EHR Direct/Data Submission Vendor” and “qualified clinical data registries/QRDA III” reporting options have likewise been extended until March 20.

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

How to Avoid Meaningful Use Penalties (2015 Update)

February 19, 2015 1 comment

The negative payment adjustments for nonparticipation in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program (“Meaningful Use” or MU) will increase to -2% off covered professional services in calendar year (CY) 2016. Physicians who are eligible for the Medicare version of the program will have two ways to avoid the 2016 penalties:

Option 1: Compliance

  • Prior MU participants must have been a Meaningful EHR User in 2014 to avoid the 2016 penalties. If the prior MU participant was not MU-compliant in 2014, he/she must use Option 2 below.
  • Those who have never participated in MU must begin participating by July 1, 2015 and complete the attestation process by October 1, 2015 (at the latest) to avoid 2016 penalties. If the first-time participant does not meet the attestation deadline, he/she must use Option 2 below.

Option 2: Significant hardship exception
Regardless of whether or not a physician was MU compliant in the past, he/she can obtain one of several “significant hardship exceptions” to avoid 2016 penalties. CMS can grant these to physicians on an annual basis for up to 5 total years. The various available significant hardship exceptions are as follows:

  • Lacking broadband/infrastructure: The physician was located in an area without sufficient Internet access to comply for any 90-day period of time from the beginning of 2014 to July 1, 2015. Moreover, the physician must have faced insurmountable barriers to obtaining the internet connectivity. A manual application is required by July 1, 2015.
  • Newly practicing: The physician has been practicing for less than 2 years. This will be automatically given. No manual application is required.
  • Extreme and uncontrollable circumstances: a) A previous MU participant faced extreme and uncontrollable circumstances in 2014. Or, b) a physician who has never participated in MU faced extreme and uncontrollable circumstances in 2015. A manual application is required by July 1, 2015.
  • Inability to influence availability of certified EHR technology (CEHRT): The physician practiced at multiple locations, and lacked control over the availability of CEHRT at one or more locations where he/she had more than 50% of his/her patient encounters. A manual application is required by July 1, 2015.
  • Lack of face-to-face/telemedicine interaction with patients AND lack of need for follow-up: The physician can demonstrate difficulty in meeting MU on the basis of lack of face-to-face or telemedicine interaction with patients and lack of need for follow up with patients. A manual application is required by July 1, 2015.
  • Primary specialty listing in PECOS: The physician has a primary specialty listed in PECOS as radiology, anesthesiology, or pathology by July 1, 2015. For radiology, the primary specialty listing must be “diagnostic radiology” (30), “nuclear medicine” (36), or “interventional radiology” (94). No manual application is required.

The above information is subject to change. For more information about the significant hardship exceptions, please see CMS’ website.

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

ACR Comments on Draft Federal Health IT Strategic Plan: 2015-2020

February 6, 2015 Leave a comment

On February 6, the American College of Radiology (ACR) submitted comments regarding the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for HIT’s (ONC) draft 2015-2020 update of the “Federal Health IT Strategic Plan.”

As background, Congress directed ONC in the Recovery Act of 2009 to periodically update a strategic plan on health IT goals for federal agencies. ONC’s broad policy document, which was originally created (pre-mandate) in 2008 and later updated in 2011, describes non-binding, high-level objectives for all agencies that fund related research, regulate IT solutions, or deliver health care services.

The ACR’s comments generally supported the goals, objectives, and strategies in the plan and offered insights into relevant informatics initiatives in the College and elsewhere in the radiology community. The ACR identified the following two objectives as being especially critical for federal government agency involvement and leadership:

  • Objective 2A: Enable individuals, providers, and public health entities to securely send, receive, find, and use electronic health information.
  • Objective 5B: Accelerate the development and commercialization of innovative technologies and solutions.

Moving forward, the ONC will use public comments and input from other sources, such as their own federal advisory committees, to refine and finalize the updated strategic plan.