Dr. Carson’s office is already fully electronic and his staff formed a meaningful use task force earlier this year to address compliance with federal requirements. About two months into the process, it was clear to Dr. Carson that his idea of meaningful use was different from that of the government, he says. For example, the Meaningful Use program requires providers to record the preferred language, race, and ethnicity of patients, and Dr. Carson’s office was not routinely collecting that data.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2011
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The office’s meaningful use task force is now temporarily decommissioned. They have decided to upgrade the office’s software in the first quarter of 2012 independent of meaningful use, and will reactivate the meaningful use committee and start tracking its compliance once again next year. He is not sure yet whether the office will apply for meaningful use 2012 or delay until 2013—they are still analyzing the various incentive programs available and how close the practice is to being compliant with meaningful use.
Slow Progress for Some Practices
Despite the complications, Wasser is determined to succeed with the transition to an all-digital office setting. In the spring of 2011 after extensive research that included interviews with potential vendors, the Wassers chose an Internet-based “cloud” service that maintains electronic records on a remote server offsite from their practice.
“My intention, and they had me write this down, was to get up and running sometime in the spring, so we could have several months of practice—maybe practice all summer and then get on and be live so we could do the last three months of the year in meaningful use,” she says. “You have to do 90 days consecutively to get credit for it, which means we would have to do October, November, and December.”
As they worked to implement the system that would allow the practice to attest to meaningful use, Wasser realized that they would not be ready to start attestation this year. “There’s just no way that we’ll get this system in place and learn how to use it and be proficient in it to be able to do 90 days consecutively in 2011,” she says.
However, the delay won’t necessarily mean that Wasser’s practice will miss out on the full incentive. With this program, 2011 and, to a certain extent, the beginning of 2012 can be used to plan and prepare your practice for the transition to demonstrating meaningful use. The CMS EHR Incentive Program is designed so that providers can begin participation in the program in years 2011 or 2012 and still be eligible for up to $44,000 in incentives.