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Trying to Make Heads or Tails out of Meaningful Use? You Can!

Wondering if You Still have Time to Attest in 2014?  You Do!
by Cindy Braden
July 7, 2014

If you feel like you are behind the curve on Meaningful Use (MU), I get it – I hear it all the time, and you’re not alone.   I’ve been advising optometrists and their staff on implementing Electronic Health Records (EHR) in their practices for nearly a decade, and I can say without a doubt that there is no other topic more misunderstood than MU.

To help with some clarity – especially for those of you contemplating MU in 2014, I’d like to share what I’ve learned watching the MU race from the sidelines these past few years.  I’ll also offer some specifics and suggestions on key dates, doing your homework, planning for training, and timelines for MU success in 2014.

Understand Key Dates

Let’s start with some facts regarding key MU related dates in 2014:

  • Last Day to Begin MU in 2014 – October 3rd, 2014:

    In order to get paid incentive money for 2014, you must demonstrate MU via a certified EHR (hit all your required marks) for 90 days in 2014.  October 3rd, 2014 is the last day to begin your 90 days of effective MU in 2014.

  • 1% 2015 Medicare Reimbursement Penalty Deadline – October 1st, 2014:

    This date has been causing some confusion. A penalty has been set for anyone who has not completed MU requirements by October 1st, 2014.  The key word here is “completed”.  To avoid the penalty, you’d need to have started by July 1st, 2014.  Since that date has passed, that means if you have not yet begun MU with a certified EHR, you will be affected by this 1% penalty next year (the 1% penalty will be applied to your 2015 Medicare reimbursements).  However, you can still perform the required work from October 3rd – December 31st to qualify for 2014 incentive payments – up to $12,000 per eligible provider.

Do Your Homework

Implementing an EHR is a wonderful thing to do for your practice. I know many of you are shaking your heads at this idea, but it’s true. I’ve heard it hundreds of times. I attended 39 shows last year and had customer after customer say that once they got past implementation and got comfortable with the software they were thrilled. In fact many customers went so far as to say they wish they would’ve done EHR sooner.

There are so many reasons to implement EHR without factoring in the government incentive money. That being said… implementation and change is tough. Like really tough.  However, if you pick the right software for your practice, the learning curve is worth it. Vice versa, if you pick the wrong software… you are not going to be happy. My advice? Make the right software choice for your practice and budget the right amount of time regardless of the government incentive and timelines.

Do your homework. You will be running almost every aspect of your business on this software; from patient records, to accounting, to optical. EHR adds wonderful advantages and increases efficiencies like generating codes, automating letters, populating Rx’s, and generating reports that give you a view at your business you never dreamed possible. Choose your software based on how it will advance your business for the next several years rather than how to earn incentive money.

Plan for Training

Next, give yourself time to learn and setup the software. The customization of these programs can make a world of a difference in day to day use. Allow yourself to get a sense of what it’s like to use every day and let your staff catch their breath before adding the MU requirements into the mix. In my opinion, trying to learn new software while adding the MU steps can set you up for a painful transition. Even if it’s only a few weeks, allow yourself and your staff that time to focus solely on training with your new software program.

Finally, dive into MU. Even if you miss this year’s deadline of October 3rd, you’ll want to get a jump on next year so get moving soon. Take time to go through the guidelines and training tools provided by the software company you chose and own the responsibility of digesting the information. It’s not easy but it can certainly be done.

A Timeline for Success

Bottom line: If you want to earn your share of the available $12,000 of incentive money in 2014 you still have time. But you must be committed to making it work. My suggested time line for those of you still contemplating for this year is:

  • By July 16th, select and sign up with your software partner
  • By August 13th, complete training and customization (4 weeks)
  • August 14th, go live and dive into using your new software (3 weeks)
  • September 3rd, spend the next 30 days focused on learning and implementing MU
  • October 3rd, begin your attestation period

See? It can be done.  If you have already narrowed your EHR selection down and can do this quicker, that’s even better. The important thing is to get moving now and allow for extra time for training on your software. If you want to do this by the end of 2014 don’t try to learn new software and MU in 3 weeks. Do not wait until September 1st to make your decision. As vendors we like to see our customers remain sane and your staff happy about your new endeavor.

Good luck. Stay focused. Lean on your vendor. We’ve seen the success stories and you can do it too.

About the author:

Cindy Braden is Director of Sales & Marketing for RevolutionEHR.  To find out more about RevolutionEHR visit www.revolutionehr.com.


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