OIG Initiates Audit Program of the Medicare EHR Incentive Program

As part of its Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2015, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services is initiating an audit program of the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. This audit program will be conducted in addition those already being performed by Figliozzi and Company, the audit contractor for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Any eligible professionals (EPs) who received incentive payments from Jan. 1, 2011, to June 30, 2014, are eligible to be randomly selected for auditing. The OIG will review certain meaningful use measures to determine whether selected EPs incorrectly received any incentive payments, and whether those EPs have adequately protected patients’ health information created or maintained by the EHR. As part of the auditing process, the agency will request specific information and documentation of compliance with the meaningful use measures under review.

To prepare for the possibility of an audit, all EPs should review their documentation for each meaningful use measure and for every year an incentive payment was received. For more information, visit the CMS meaningful use meaningful use audits webpage and access the Medical Group Management Association’s Meaningful Use Resource Center.

Posted in Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE), EHR Incentive Programs, Medicare, On the Job | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CMS NPRM Expands Category of Radiology Orders, Thresholds

As a follow-up to my post yesterday, the March 20, 2015, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for Stage 3 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs has expanded the category of radiology orders to include diagnostic imaging other than radiology.  Also, the thresholds for medication, laboratory, and diagnostic imaging orders have been increased for Stage 3.  Note the following excerpts from the CMS NPRM:

We propose to continue our policy from the Stage 2 final rule that the orders to be included in this objective are medication, laboratory, and radiology orders, as such orders are commonly included in CPOE implementation and offer opportunity to maximize efficiencies for providers. However, for Stage 3, we are proposing to expand the objective to include diagnostic imaging, which is a broader category including other imaging tests such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance, and computed tomography in addition to traditional radiology. This change addresses the needs of specialists and allows for a wider variety of clinical orders relevant to particular specialists to be included for purposes of measurement.

Based on our review of attestation data from Stages 1 and 2 demonstrating provider performance on the CPOE measures, we propose to increase the threshold for medication orders to 80 percent and to increase the threshold for diagnostic imaging orders and laboratory orders to 60 percent.

Posted in CMS Stage 2 Rule, Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE), EHR Incentive Programs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking News: Proposed CMS Rule is Favorable for CMAs (AAMA)

On March 20, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for Stage 3 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs.  I am pleased to report that the Proposed Objective for computerized provider order entry (CPOE) in the NPRM is very favorable for credentialed medical assistants such as CMAs (AAMA).  Note the following excerpts from the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:

Proposed Objective: Use computerized provider order entry (CPOE) for medication, laboratory, and diagnostic imaging orders directly entered by any licensed healthcare professional, credentialed medical assistant, or a medical staff member credentialed to and performing the equivalent duties of a credentialed medical assistant; who can enter orders into the medical record per state, local, and professional guidelines.…

In Stage 3, we propose to continue the policy from the Stage 2 final rule at

77 FR 53986 that orders entered by any licensed healthcare professional or credentialed medical assistant would count toward this objective. A credentialed medical assistant may enter orders if they are credentialed to perform the duties of a medical assistant by a credentialing body other than the employer. If a staff member of the eligible provider is appropriately credentialed and performs assistive services similar to a medical assistant, but carries a more specific title due to either specialization of their duties or to the specialty of the medical professional they assist, orders entered by that staff member would be included in this objective. We further note that medical staff whose organizational or job title, or the title of their credential, is other than medical assistant may enter orders if these staff are credentialed to perform the equivalent duties of a credentialed medical assistant by a credentialing body other than their employer and perform such duties as part of their organizational or job title. We defer to the provider’s discretion to determine the appropriateness of the credentialing of staff to ensure that any staff entering orders have the clinical training and knowledge required to enter orders for CPOE.…

However, as stated in the Stage 2 final rule at 77 FR 53986, it is apparent that the prevalent time when CDS [Clinical Decision Support] interventions are presented is when the order is entered into CEHRT [Certified Electronic Health Record Technology], and that not all EHRs also present CDS when the order is authorized (assuming such a multiple step ordering process is in place). This means that the person entering the order would be required to enter the order correctly, evaluate a CDS intervention either using their own judgment or through accurate relay of the information to the ordering provider, and then either make a change to the order based on the information provided by the CDS intervention or bypass the intervention. The execution of this role represents a significant impact on patient safety; therefore, we continue to maintain for Stage 3 that a layperson is not qualified to perform these tasks. [Emphasis added]

The full document can be found here. I will provide further excerpts and summaries later this week and next week.

Posted in Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE), EHR Incentive Programs, On the Job, Scope of Practice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

State Law Does Not Override CMS Requirement

I have been receiving questions to the following effect:  If state law does not require medical assistants to be credentialed, does that render null and void the CMS “credentialed medical assistant” requirement for meaningful use under the Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs?

The answer is emphatically no.  Note the following CMS language:

Any licensed healthcare professionals and credentialed medical assistants, can enter orders into the medical record for purposes of including the order in the numerator for the objective of CPOE [computerized provider order entry] if they can originate the order per state, local and professional guidelines.

If state law permits medical assistants, as directed by the overseeing provider, to enter orders into the CPOE system, they must be credentialed to have such entry count toward meaningful use.  The fact that state law does not require medical assistants to be credentialed does not override or nullify the CMS requirement that medical assistants be credentialed to have such entry count toward meaningful use.

Posted in Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE), EHR Incentive Programs, On the Job | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ownership of Outpatient Clinics and Scope of Practice

I have been receiving questions from medical assistants who work in outpatient clinics owned by hospitals.  They are wondering whether their legal scope of practice is different because they do not work in outpatient settings owned by physicians.

I am not aware of any state laws that establish a different scope of practice for medical assistants who work in settings owned by hospitals or other non-physician entities.  The consistent requirement in all states is that medical assistants work under direct physician supervision in outpatient settings, regardless of the ownership structure of the setting.

Posted in On the Job, Scope of Practice | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment