The meaningful use changes are necessary to ensure that health IT is mature enough to drastically improve healthcare. As a result, here are four ways meaningful use will be different next year.
The biggest change facing meaningful users is certification. Starting next year, all EPs will be required to use a 2014 Edition EHR, regardless of what meaningful use stage they are on. The new certification supports all stages of meaningful use and includes important updates that will set the ground rules for interoperability and patient engagement. 2011 Edition certification will expire at the end of this year.
2. Reporting period
Many EHR vendors have already re-certified, but to accommodate as many EPs as possible, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has changed the reporting requirements slightly. Normally, EPs are required to report for 90 days the first year they attest to meaningful use and for 365 days each year after, but in 2014 all EPs are only required to attest for 90 days. (In other words, EPs won’t have to begin attesting until October.) This will give EHR vendors and EPs more time to process updates and ensure software is working correctly.
3. Core and menu objective
Certain objectives for both stage 1 and stage 2 have been combined or eliminated. Furthermore, EPs can no longer count exclusions toward meeting menu objectives. For more details, see our meaningful use page.
If you haven’t started meaningful use yet, 2014 is the last year you can qualify for incentives (up to $24,000 per provider). Once 2015 hits, 1 percent Medicare payment adjustments will hit all eligible physicians who haven’t attested to meaningful use. Those who have already met meaningful use will continue to collect incentive checks as long as they continue to attest successfully.
Unfortunately, most of these changes won’t make meaningful use easier, which means preparing now is even more important. To prepare for these changes, I would recommend evaluating what you’ve already learned from your meaningful use experience and making a list of what worked and what you would do differently. Make sure you understand the differences between 2011 and 2014 requirements as well. And most importantly, give yourself adequate time to test the new software once it’s been re-certified.