Say what you want about the whims and vicissitudes of HHS, CMS and ONC. You can always count on them to ruin cocktail hour.
It was five o’clock somewhere this evening, but certainly not for the providers and EHR vendors trying to take in the 752 pages of regulations dumped into the Federal Register as the workday ended on the East Coast. The feds have a fondness for publishing the heftiest rules at the end of the day, as if begging us to step away from our desks and seek out ways to deny reality and dull our pain.
An HHS press release says the rules add “simplicity and flexibility” to Meaningful Use requirements. Provider groups such as AMA and AAO beg to differ, arguing that regulators should have delayed the rule to accommodate MACRA legislation earlier this year as well as the inability of vendors to provide interoperable systems that can “talk” to one another.
It’s not as if doctors are “troglodytes” seeking to delay EHR forever, said AMA President Stephen Stack in a town hall meeting earlier this month.
“Doctors are digital omnivores,” he added. “We adopt technology at a blistering pace when we work, and when it helps us take care of patients.”
The implication: EHRs don’t do that yet, so what’s the rush, really? The feds appear to have thrown provider groups a bone, saying providers have an additional 60 days to comment on the “final” MU Stage 3 rule released today. “As such, the final Stage 3 rule appears to be final in name only,” observes Modern Healthcare‘s Joseph Conn.
So Now What? What do you do amidst all this sound and fury if you’ve implemented an EHR and you’re trying to meet 2015 attestation requirements to avoid the 3 percent reimbursement penalty? AAO boils down the new rule’s requirements nicely, and there’s some good news. 1. You need to report for only a 90-day period in 2015. “If you’ve already begun reporting this year, you can now stop if you’ve reached 90 days,” explains AAO. The downside: you can’t start reporting now and still make that 90-day requirement. There aren’t enough days left in 2015. 2. Those online patient portals you’re trying to get five percent of your patients to use? Get just one patient to use your portal this year and you’re golden.