On October 6, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its final rule for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. In responding to comments urging that the “credentialed medical assistant” requirement be made less stringent, CMS reaffirmed that medical assistants must have a third-party credential (such as the CMA (AAMA)), and must have sufficient knowledge to handle properly clinical decision support (CDS) alerts.
One party commenting on the CMS notice of proposed rulemaking for the EHR Incentive Programs made the suggestion “that if a standard for medical assistant CPOE [computerized provider order entry] is required, then the standard should be that the medical assistant must be appropriately trained for CEHRT [certified electronic health record technology] use (including CPOE) by the employer or CEHRT vendor in order to be counted [toward meeting the meaningful use requirements of the Incentive Programs].” (page 322 of the attached document)
CMS responded as follows:
We [CMS] disagree that the training on the use of CEHRT is adequate for the purposes of entering an order under CPOE and executing any relevant action related to a CDS. We believe CPOE and CDS duties should be considered clinical in nature, not clerical. Therefore, CPOE and CDS duties, as noted, should be viewed in the same category as any other clinical task, which may only be performed by a qualified medical or clinical staff. (page 323 of the attached document)
This position of CMS is a resounding affirmation of the fact that only professionally-credentialed medical assistants (such as CMAs (AAMA)) are qualified to enter orders safely into the CPOE system.
More information about the CMS final rule will be forthcoming in Legal Eye: On Medical Assisting and CMA Today.