CMS Proposed Rule on Hospital EHR “Electronic Patient Event Notifications”

By Kathie McDonald-McClure and Margaret Young Levi

Doctor Speaking with Patient

Summary: CMS proposes new Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for hospitals that will require the hospital EHR to send electronic event notifications to post-acute care providers when a patient has been admitted, discharged, or transferred.  What must hospitals do, and how much time is needed, to operationalize the new CoPs, considering a process will need to be developed that identifies providers who should and can receive these event notices? What will be required, and how much time is needed, to reconfigure EHRs to send the notifications and demonstrate compliance with the multiple facets of the CoP?  Will PAC providers be obligated to operationalize the receipt and use of these notifications under the IMPACT Act?  CMS is seeking stakeholder input on its proposal, including a reasonable time frame for implementation. Comments are due June 3, 2019.* Continue reading

New HIPAA Auditing Process Begins – Are You Ready?

audit checklistThe Department of Health and Human Services’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced last week that it has launched Phase 2 of its HIPAA Audit Program. Under this Audit Program, OCR will review whether entities subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security, and Data Breach Notification regulations are complying with those regulations.  OCR has already begun to send initial emails to “covered entities” and “business associates” (defined in the HIPAA regulations) regarding the audits that seek to verify contact information.

Tip:  These emails may be incorrectly classified as spam by corporate or email filters.  OCR expects covered entities and business associates to check spam and junk email folders for emails from OCR.

WarningSophisticated cybercriminals could use the OCR audits as an opportunity to send fake OCR emails (“phishing emails”) in an attempt to trick employees into turning over individual health information or to click on links that download harmful malware into the organization’s computer network.  Do not click on links or supply any documentation until Continue reading

Stages 1, 2, And Now 3, Meaningful Use Criteria

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) proposed Meaningful Use criteria to implement Stage 3 and allow eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (“CAHs”) to qualify for incentive payments (or avoid downward payment adjustments) under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program implemented by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act of 2009. stethoscope, keyboardThen CMS made changes to Stage 1 and Stage 2 Meaningful Use criteria to better align with the proposed Stage 3 criteria just two weeks later.

On March 30, 2015, CMS published a long-awaited proposed rule which, if finalized, would implement Stage 3, making changes to the objectives and measures of meaningful use for providers effective in Continue reading

April 1 Deadline for Hospitals to Earn EHR Incentives

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reminds hospitals that 2015 is the last year for eligible hospitals to begin participating in the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program and earn incentive payments.

In order to earn a 2015 incentive payment, be eligible for a 2016 incentive payment, and avoid a 2016 payment reduction (called an “adjustment”), first-time hospital participants should:

  • Begin their 90-day reporting period no later than April 1, 2015 and
  • Attest by July 1, 2015.

Eligible hospitals that do not start their 90-day reporting period on April 1, 2015 have one last chance to earn a 2015 incentive payment if they begin their reporting period by July 1, 2015 and attest by Continue reading

Providers Talk, CMS Listens: CMS Announces Plan to Modify Meaningful Use Requirements

On January 29, 2015, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) electronic health recordannounced its intent to make changes to the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs beginning in 2015, which aim to “help to reduce the reporting burden on providers.”

Providers have expressed concerns about the EHR Incentive Programs’ requirements and their burden on providers. In response to those concerns, CMS is considering whether to:

  • Shorten the EHR reporting period in 2015 to 90 days to accommodate these changes.
  • Realign hospital EHR reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other CMS quality programs.
  • Modify other aspects of the program to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burdens.

CMS is expected to engage in rulemaking this spring to implement these changes to the EHR Incentive Programs. These changes will not be included in the proposed regulations regarding Stage 3 meaningful use requirements and criteria that CMS plans to issue by early March 2015 and which will apply in 2017 and subsequent years.