The State of Meaningful Use in Eye Care

Originally published in Optometric Management 1/1/2011

Written by Scott Jens, O.D., F.A.A.O

The State of Meaningful Use in Eye Care

Where will optometrists find the greatest challenges in reaching EHR’s meaningful use objectives?

Recently, the most-touted benefit of electronic health records (EHR) is a government-funded financial incentive. Specifically, under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) will pay doctors whose healthcare practices demonstrate meaningful use (MU) with a (government) certified EHR system up to $44,000 for five years under the Medicare program and up to $63,500 f or six years for the Medicaid program.

In the few months since the MU criteria were announced, many optometrists have found they have a long — and likely challenging — path to follow to receive the incentive money. This article will discuss that path and offer insights into the challenges of achieving MU and ultimately receiving the HITECH incentive dollars.

The first steps toward MU

The path to MU starts with the certification of EHR products (which is done by the software vendor — see “About ONC and Certification,” below), followed by registration by the healthcare provider.

CMS will accept registration for meaningful EHR use beginning this month. To register, you’ll need an active National Plan & Provider Identification number from CMS, and you must be enrolled in the Medicare Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS).

Doctors and hospitals are required to demonstrate MU for 90 days within the first year after they register with CMS. MU is implemented in the following stages:

►The Stage 1 MU objectives (discussed in this article), apply to 2011 and 2012.
►The Stage 2 objectives will be outlined this year, so that healthcare providers can prepare for their implementation in 2013.
►The Stage 3 objectives will likely take effect in 2015, according to observers. These will be outlined through future rule making.

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