Collecting data doesn't always translate into MU incentives
Attestation must be done correctly, federal officials warn
WASHINGTON – Apparently, signing up to participate in the electronic health record incentive program and collecting data in a meaningful way does not necessarily make it a done deal when it comes to getting a bonus.
This year – the first year of the federal meaningful use program – providers are only required to collect data for three months and attest to having done so. Attestation is self-declared.
So how is it that, according to Robert S. Tagalicod, director of the Office of E-Health Standards and Services at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), there are currently 300 providers who did not successfully demonstrate meaningful use during the attestation process and were not eligible to receive incentive payments?
"They were unsuccessful because they did not achieve the required threshold for one or more of the meaningful use measures,” Tagalicod explains.
"CMS has tried to make the attestation process as straightforward as possible, and we have published a variety of resources and user guides to help providers navigate the attestation process," he told Healthcare IT News.
There is some reprieve, however, for those who feel their data should have passed. "Providers who feel their attestation was unsuccessful because of incorrect information that was entered can change their information and resubmit their attestation at any time before February 29, 2012 for the 2011 calendar year," said Tagalicod.
In addition, regional extension centers (RECs), established under the stimulus bill along with the incentive program, can help to ensure attestation is successful.
Robin Hallquist, MD, the first solo-practicing physician to work with the Regional Extension Center of New Hampshire (RECNH) was also the first solo practitioner in New Hampshire to achieve meaningful use Stage 1, according to Jeff Loughlin, RECNH's executive director.
"With the REC's assistance, we went through it pretty effortlessly," Hallquist said, describing what she calls "her tiny family practice." Adoption of the EHR and attesting to meaningful use took six months, start to finish, she said.
"Robin was the type of practice we were looking to help," Loughlin said. The RECNH has also had a number of other providers that have successfully attested to meaningful use, but most of them have belonged to larger practices that already had health IT.
"Workflow was more complicated for them, but they have the leadership to dictate and guide the process," he added.