Medical practice management seems to be going through some of its most challenging times. Keeping up with compliance issues created by the Affordable Care Act has become top priority for most medical practices. That's why the news announced last month about the deadline change for Meaningful Use Stage 2 was welcomed with open arms. What does this adjustment mean for your practice?
Reasons for New Deadlines
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) announced Stage 2 will be extended through 2016, with Stage 3 beginning in 2017. CMS explained the reason for the change was so that they could focus on "the successful implementation of the enhanced patient engagement, interoperability and health information exchange requirements." Additionally, they explained, gathering more accurate data during Stage 2 will contribute to better policy decisions in Stage 3.
Meaning for Medical Providers
Ok, so the CMS will benefit from the adjustment, but what about providers? Obviously, you'll benefit from more time as well. In fact, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) requested a one-year extension be considered back in May of this year. It's a move that was supported by the medical community in general. However, note that the change doesn't mean you're off the hook until 2016.
Meaningful Use requirements for 2014 will be affected very little. Providers are still required to meet 2014 requirements in order to avoid 2015 payment penalties. If you've already started Stage 1, continue. It's also important to note that if 2014 is your third or fourth year of Meaningful Use, you'll still be expected to start Stage 2 in 2014. If you haven't started at all, October 1, 2014 is the attestation deadline to avoid 2015 penalties. Lastly, Stage 3 will begin for all providers in January 2017.
In summary, regardless of where you are in the Meaningful Use program, still plan to meet 2014 requirements. The announcement this month only affects 2016 requirements. Lastly, 2016 requirements may not be changing for you if you are three or four years into the program.
Meeting the requirements brought on by new legislation is one of the biggest challenges facing medical practices this year and in the coming years. If you have questions or concerns about navigating this challenging transition, let us know by leaving a comment or calling us.