Federal regulators plan to ease the burden of complying with meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR). This provides the AOA an opportunity to voice concerns and make the program work better for doctors of optometry.
"It only makes sense that the bar for success is set at a reasonable level, which most physicians can achieve."
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced it would introduce a proposed rule this spring that would modify requirements to the program. Modifications include a provision to shorten the reporting period for EHR programs to 90 days this year.
The rulemaking "would be intended to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015," wrote Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS's deputy administrator for innovation & quality and chief medical officer, in a Jan. 29 CMS blog post.
Under the rulemaking process, CMS will propose changes, allow for public feedback, and then issue final regulations. In anticipation that CMS will implement a 90-day reporting requirement for 2015, the AOA will fight for as much flexibility as possible.
AOA favors 90-day reporting period
Meaningful use participants under current regulations would have to report on EHR measures for a 12-month period in 2015. But AOA experts say it would be easier to meet requirements over a shorter three-month period.
This is part of a larger effort by the AOA to push for reasonable changes in the meaningful use program that would allow doctors of optometry to use EHRs in practical ways that benefit their patients.
Many providers to date have struggled to meet EHR requirements. In particular, Stage 2's new reporting requirements have presented a major stumbling block for previously successful users of EHRs, observes Charles Fitzpatrick, O.D. The New Jersey-based optometrist chairs his state's Third Party Benefit Center Committee.
"The loss of personal control and reliance upon continuous two-way communication with both patients and colleagues to meet Stage 2 meaningful use represents a huge burden in daily practice," Dr. Fitzpatrick says.
The fact that CMS seems willing to shorten the reporting period in 2015 to 90 days shows the group was listening to the physician community, he adds. "All physicians now face the prospect of penalties should they not use EHRs in their offices. It only makes sense that the bar for success is set at a reasonable level, which most physicians can achieve."
AOA will provide further comments once CMS issues the proposed rulemaking.
To learn more about AOA advocacy to improve meaningful use, contact Kara Webb, the AOA's associate director for coding and regulatory policy.
Members attending Optometry's Meeting® 2015 in Seattle, Washington, June 24-28, can look forward to the launch of AOA's new clinical registry. The registry is expected to play an important role in satisfying meaningful use requirements.
Doctors of optometry in EHR Incentive Programs
As of December 2014:
- Medicare's EHR incentive program included 15,868 registered doctors of optometry.
- Medicaid's EHR incentive program included 329 registrations.
- Medicare paid $272,996,295 to doctors of optometry.
- Medicaid paid $1,701,417 to doctors of optometry.
Source: December 2014 EHR Incentive Program, Active Registrations, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service.
Virtual AOA on Capitol Hill, May 23-25, is open to all advocacy-minded doctors, optometry students and paraoptometrics. Learn the issues and get involved at optometry’s premier advocacy event.
As AOA advocates in new federal relief legislation and recognition of optometry’s ability to support the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine campaign, Ohio calls on volunteer doctors of optometry to assist.
Despite its name, the National Association of Optometrists and Opticians is a “front” for large optical retailers, working against the interests of doctors of optometry and comprehensive eye health care for patients, the AOA contends in a Jan. 5 letter sent to the Internal Revenue Service. Some companies are now taking steps to disassociate from the lobbying group and its recent actions.