Certifying Board of the AAMA Achieves IAS Accreditation

The AAMA touts the merits of the CMA (AAMA) credential, the highest standard for certification in the medical assisting profession. Those merits have recently been recognized by the International Accreditation Service (IAS), which has granted accreditation for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons to the Certifying Board of the AAMA. The full copy of the press release can be found below.

The Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants Achieves International Accreditation as a Personnel Certifying Body

CHICAGO—April 20, 2016—The Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants, Inc. (AAMA) has received independent recognition that its criteria and processes for earning the CMA (AAMA) credential meet ISO/IEC Standard 17024:2012, the global benchmark for personnel certification bodies, distinguishing it from other medical assisting certifications. The Certifying Board of the AAMA has earned accreditation for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons (AC474) from the International Accreditation Service (IAS).

“This recognition demonstrates AAMA’s commitment to ensuring that medical assistants with the CMA (AAMA) credential meet the highest standards,” says Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA, chief executive officer and legal counsel of the AAMA. “It also further ensures the integrity of the CMA (AAMA) credential for medical assistants, their employers and patients.”

In order to receive accreditation the Certifying Board had to demonstrate that it operates in full compliance with the exacting requirements of ISO/IEC Standard 17024:2012. In so doing, the AAMA has established itself as the most respected and credible personnel certification organization for the medical assisting profession.

A rigorous credential, the CMA (AAMA) is the only certification that requires postsecondary education. Only candidates who graduate from an accredited postsecondary medical assisting program are eligible to sit for the CMA (AAMA) Certification Examination. The CMA (AAMA) must recertify every five years. In addition to ensuring the CMA (AAMA) represents a world class certification, IAS accreditation also validates the credential as an internationally recognized certification, enabling CMAs (AAMA) to obtain similar positions outside of the United States.

Medical assisting is one of the nation’s careers growing much faster than average for all occupations, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical assistants work in outpatient health care settings and perform both clinical and administrative patient-centered duties. They have knowledge of medical law and regulatory guidelines including HIPAA compliance. Clinical duties vary according to state law and may include taking medical histories, taking and recording vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, preparing patients for examination and assisting the physician during the examination. The administrative duties may include maintaining medical records, including entering the provider’s orders into the electronic health record, managing insurance processes, scheduling appointments, arranging for hospital admission and laboratory services, and billing and coding.

The CMA (AAMA) Certification Program is also accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), a body that reviews and accredits certification programs that meet its Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. The NCCA is an accrediting arm of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), formerly called the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA).

For more information about CMA (AAMA) certification or to verify CMA (AAMA) credentials, visit http://www.aama-ntl.org/.

Posted in Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, IAS Accreditation, Professional Identity | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

AAMA Submits Comments on Stage 3 Final Rule

In its efforts to stay abreast of state and federal laws pertaining to the medical assisting profession, the AAMA recently submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding some specific language from the October 16, 2015 Federal Register. What follows are those comments.

The following comments are being submitted on behalf of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), the national organization representing the medical assisting profession at the federal and state levels.

There appears to be an accidental inconsistency between the following language on page 62944 of the final rule, and the following language on pages 62949 and 62950 of the final rule:

Page 62944, third column:

(3) Computerized provider order entry. (i) Objective. Use computerized provider order entry for medication, laboratory, and radiology orders directly entered by any licensed healthcare professional who can enter orders into the medical record per state, local, and professional guidelines.

Page 62949, third column, and page 62950, first column:

(4) Computerized provider order entry (CPOE).—(i) EP CPOE—(A) 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. …

(ii) Eligible hospital and CAH CPOE—(A) 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.

The American Association of Medical Assistants believes that there is an inconsistency between the above excerpts because of the following language in the analysis of, and responses to, public comments:

Page 62798, second column:

Response: In the Stage 2 final rule (77 FR 53986) and in subsequent guidance in FAQ 9058,6 we explained for Stage 2 that a licensed health care provider or a medical staff person who is a credentialed medical assistant or is credentialed to and performs the duties equivalent to a credentialed medical assistant may enter orders. We maintain our position that medical staff must have at least a certain level of medical training in order to execute the related CDS for a CPOE order entry. We defer to the provider to determine the proper credentialing, training, and duties of the medical staff entering the orders as long as they fit within the guidelines we have proscribed. We believe that interns who have completed their medical training and are working toward appropriate licensure would fit within this definition. We maintain our position that, in general, scribes are not included as medical staff that may enter orders for purposes of the CPOE objective.

However, we note that this policy is not specific to a job title but to the appropriate medical training, knowledge, and experience.

Page 62839, first column:

Response: As noted in the Stage 3 proposed rule (80 FR 16751), we require that the person entering the orders be a licensed health care professional or credentialed medical assistant (or staff member credentialed to the equivalency and performing the duties equivalent to a medical assistant). 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.

The American Association of Medical Assistants therefore recommends that the above language on page 62944, third column, be expanded to include “credentialed medical assistants,” as do the above excerpts from page 62949, third column, and page 62950, first column.

Posted in Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, CMS Rule, Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE), EHR Incentive Programs, Meaningful Use, On the Job, Scope of Practice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Medical Assistants as Pharmacy Technicians

I have been receiving an increasing number of questions similar to the following:

Can a CMA (AAMA) work as a pharmacy technician in my state?  And, if so, can that CMA (AAMA) administer injections and take blood pressures under the supervision of a pharmacist?

Here is my response:

Thank you for this question.  A medical assistant—even a CMA (AAMA)—would have to meet the state law requirements and become a pharmacy technician in order to work in that capacity under the supervision of a pharmacist.  Once a CMA (AAMA) is registered by the state as a pharmacy technician, the scope of practice for this individual would be the same as all other pharmacy technicians as specified by the laws of that state.

Posted in Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, delegation, medication administration, On the Job, Professional Identity, Scope of Practice | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Addressing Recent Concerns About Order Entry

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Blog recently posted these articles dealing with forthcoming changes to the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs:

EHR Incentive Programs: Where We Go Next

Comments of CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt at the J.P. Morgan Annual Health Care Conference, Jan. 11, 2016

In the wake of these pieces, there has been some concern about the potential effects on medical assistants’ ability to enter orders into the computerized provider order entry (CPOE) system for meaningful use purposes. I have addressed these concerns in a memorandum to AAMA leaders. The body of this message is as follows:

January 22, 2016

Within the last 10 days the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued statements about forthcoming changes in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs (Incentive Programs) required by the passage of the Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2015, referred to as “MACRA.”

Congress enacted MACRA on April 16, 2015.  This legislation replaces the current meaningful use (MU) payment adjustment provisions with the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), effective January 1, 2019.  According to CMS, MIPS will incorporate some meaningful use elements of the current program and will introduce new elements.

There has been a groundswell of concern that MACRA will do away with the requirement that only third-party-credentialed medical assistants, licensed health care professionals, and third-party-credentialed individuals “who hold a more specific title than ‘medical assistant’ because their duties include only parts of the medical assisting scope of practice, or because of the specialization of the overseeing eligible professional (EP),” are permitted to enter medication, laboratory, and diagnostic imaging orders into the computerized provider order entry (CPOE) system for meaningful use calculation purposes under the Incentive Programs.

In my legal opinion, this concern is not warranted because of the following:

  1. The order entry credentialing requirement of the Incentive Programs was established by CMS rule, not by federal statute.
  2. No provisions of MACRA impact the CMS order entry credentialing requirement.
  3. The legislative history of MACRA does not indicate that Congress was concerned about the CMS order entry credentialing requirement.

CMS regulations implementing MACRA and MIPS are scheduled to be published for comment in 2016.  I do not anticipate that these forthcoming regulations will include any changes to the credentialing requirement of the CMS MU order entry rule.  However, if changes are proposed that could potentially harm patients by lowering the credentialing requirement for medical assistants who enter orders into a CPOE system, the American Association of Medical Assistants will be quick to point this out to CMS decision makers, and to persuade them to maintain or increase the current requirement.

Posted in Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE), EHR Incentive Programs, Meaningful Use, Medicaid, Medicare, On the Job, Scope of Practice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The CMA (AAMA) Credential in Conjunction with Other Roles

In recent days I received the following two questions:

I would like to know if it is legal in the state of Michigan to work as a medical assistant and a nursing assistant. I started as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and later went to school and became a CMA (AAMA). Can I work for two companies—for one company as a medical assistant and for another company as a nursing assistant? I have tried to search for an answer elsewhere but have had no luck.

I am currently in nursing school (practical nursing). I will graduate in May. Am I able to maintain my CMA (AAMA) even after I obtain my licensed practical nurse (LPN) license? I hope I am able to do so.

I responded to these questions as follows:

  1. Thank you for your question. It is my legal opinion that Michigan law permits an individual to work as a nursing assistant for one employer, and as a medical assistant for another employer. It is important that you keep your CMA (AAMA) current, and that you fulfill any requirements for maintaining your CNA.
  1. Thank you for your question. There is no law or policy that would forbid you from keeping your CMA (AAMA) credential after you become an LPN. As you know, you will have to recertify every sixty (60) months in order to maintain currency of your CMA (AAMA).
Posted in Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, On the Job, Professional Identity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments