New MU Exemptions for 2015 Reporting Periods

gavel and law-1063249_1920New Legislation This Week Intended to Offer Eligible Healthcare Providers Relief from Medicare Payment Adjustment Penalties

President Obama signed the “Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act” into law on Monday, December 28, 2015. Congress passed the bill the prior week as one of their final legislative acts before adjourning for the year.

This new legislation aims to alleviate stress placed on Eligible Providers (EPs) after the Modified Stage 2 Rule — which requires 90 consecutive days of EHR data reporting for 2015 — was released in mid-October. With the late release of the modifications, there wasn’t a full 90-day reporting period remaining in the 2015 calendar year and some healthcare providers didn’t have enough time to comply with the updates.

The statute makes it easier for Eligible Providers (EPs) to obtain hardship exemptions to the Modified Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements for 2015. Under prior legislation, EPs could apply to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a hardship exemption on a “case-by-case” basis.  This new legislation enables CMS to grant hardships to affected healthcare providers for 2015 impacting 2017 payment adjustments.

This new law extends the opportunity for EPs who’re unable to meet Meaningful Use for 2015 to apply for an exemption. To protect themselves from Medicare Part B Penalties that would be applied in 2017, EPs should apply for exemption by March 15, 2016.  CMS will continue to accept hardship applications after the mid-March deadline, but such applications will revert back to the original case-by-case review process.  More information regarding what the exemption process will entail is forthcoming from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Meaningful Use or Meaningful Confusion? Part 3 of 3

medical-moneyThis is Part 3 of our Three-part Blog Series, “Introduction of Stage 3,” which outlines the objectives finalized for Stage 3 under the October 16, 2015 Final Rule.

Meaningful Use was introduced as part of the HITECH Act as a means to encourage healthcare providers to adopt electronic health records, and also begin to shift to additional quality care metrics. Yet, since Meaningful Use began in 2011, there have been many critics who assert that the program does not achieve the meaning in Meaningful Use.  As such, there have been multiple iterations of the rule and the various stages.  We will present to you the latest changes that you need to know in this three part blog post series.

Part three of the series, “Introduction of Stage 3” outlines the objectives finalized for Stage 3 under the October 16th Final Rule.  You can view Part One of our series, “Changes for 2015” here.  Part Two of our the series, “Changes for 2016-2017” can be viewed here.


Optional 2017 Reporting and Required 2018 Reporting

Stage 3 will be available for attestation in 2017, although it won’t be required as previously thought. Eligible Providers will be given the option of attesting to Stage 3 in 2017 for a 90 day reporting period.  In 2018, all Providers, regardless of what stage they were scheduled to be on, are to attest to Stage 3 Objectives for a calendar year reporting period.  The optional year in 2017 will allow providers to “test the waters” with a shorter reporting period and begin preparing for Stage 3 before they are required to implement it.


Eight Objectives

Unlike previous iterations of Meaningful Use, there are no Core and Menu Objective Sets, only required Objectives. Modified Stage 2 set the tone by absorbing previous measures into one set of measures, a precedent that Stage 3 will follow. Stage 3 features many measures from previous of versions of Meaningful Use, often with higher thresholds and less exclusions.


Stage 3 Objectives Summary

Objective 1 Protect Patient Health Information Conduct a Security Risk Analysis within the Reporting Period (RP)
Objective 2 Electronic Prescribing More than 60% of permissible prescriptions written by the Eligible Provider (EP) in the RP are queried for a drug formulary and transmitted electronically
Objective 3 Clinical Decision Support 1 – Implement five Clinical Decision Support Rules related to four or more Clinical Quality Measures
2 – Enable Drug-Drug and Drug-Allergy interaction checks for the entire RP
Objective 4 Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) 1 – More than 60% of Medication orders during the RP are created through CPOE
2 – More than 60% of lab orders during the RP are created through CPOE
3 – More than 60% of radiology orders during the RP are created through CPOE
Objective 5 Patient Electronic Access 1 – More than 80% of unique patients seen by the EP during the RP are provided timely access to view online, download, or transmit their health records and can be accessed using the application of the patient’s choice
2 – More than 35% of patients seen by the EP in the RP receive patient specific education resources that were identified by the CEHRT and receive electronic access to those materials
Objective 6 Coordination of Care through Patient Engagement 1 – More than 10% of unique patients seen by the EP during the RP views online, downloads, or electronically transmits their health information or accessing their health information from an application of their choice
2 – More than 25% of unique patients seen by the EP during the RP are sent an electronic message using the secure messaging feature of CEHRT
3 – For more than 5% of unique patients seen in the RP by the EP, patient-generated health data or data from a non-clinical setting is incorporated into the CEHRT
Objective 7 Health Information Exchange 1 – For more than 50% of transitions of care and referrals, the EP that refers the patient should create and electronically exchange the summary of care record using CEHRT
2 – For more than 40% of transitions of care or referrals received by the EP where the EP has never encountered the patient, the EP receives and incorporates into the patient’s record an electronic summary of care document
3 – For more than 80% of transitions of care or referrals received by the EP where the EP has never encountered the patient, the EP performs clinical information reconciliation
Objective 8 Public Health and Clinical Data Registry Reporting 1 – Immunization Registry Reporting
2 – Syndromic Surveillance Reporting
3 – Electronic Case Reporting
4 – Public Health Registry Reporting
5 – Clinical Data Registry Reporting


Still confused? Do you need one-on-one guidance regarding your organization? We can help!  Please contact our Meaningful Use Expert, Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser ( for guidance about how these changes impact you.

Analyzing Potential EMR Risks Could Mean Added Benefits

If your practice, like most of our clients’, has already switched to an EMR system, you probably know about the benefits of having an electronic system – records are more readily available, you can save time spent filing data by outsourcing, etc. But there are also a lot of risks associated with an electronic records system – more possibilities for data breaches, HIPAA violations and hefty fines.

If you haven’t completed Measure 15 for Meaningful Use, now’s the perfect time to confidently check that off your to-do list while ensuring you are operating a secure practice when it comes to your patients’ confidential information. Data suggests many practices haven’t run a risk assessment on their system in years, which could mean gaping holes that go unidentified.

A comprehensive security risk analysis has a thorough system of checks and balances that test and measure every possible security breach in your system, assessing your practice and identifying  possible issues. Once you recognize where your problems are, you can focus on ways to fix them.

Meaningful Use designates what a HIPAA-compliant, robust security risk analysis looks like, plus what it’s NOT:

•    A network vulnerability scan
•    A penetration test
•    A social engineering test
•    A configuration audit
•    A network diagram review
•    A questionnaire
•    Information system activity review

Though all of these things can be used in conjunction with other measures to add to a risk analysis, none on their own make the cut. Thinking about your security risk analysis now will save you a headache come Meaningful Use deadlines, when every practice that fell a little behind is scrambling to get everything done. And even if you’ve already attested for Stage 1 of Meaningful Use and think you’re in the clear, don’t forget that your yearly required security risk analysis is already right around the corner.

The security risk analysis offered through DataFile Technologies is specifically designed to be secure, accurate and comprehensive under these regulations. Additionally, getting your security risk analysis through DataFile is cost-effective, saving you the time of trying to figure it out on your own. Remember, investing in a quality security risk analysis costs far less than the fine you would face for not having one. SRAs are cost-effective, starting at $2,200 for practices seeking reassurance that Measure 15 is achieved and documented.


View Our Measure 15 Video

How to Put 3rd Party Retrieval Companies on Your Do Not Call List

Frustrated CallerWhen we talk to customers, a common grievance we hear is, “We’re being bombarded by third party retrieval companies wanting to know the status on their records requests. They call multiple times a day, and it’s so frustrating!” So when we say there’s a way to eliminate those calls and put those companies on a “Do Not Call” list we often hear, “You’re kidding me, you can do that?!?”

Stop the pesky calls, and your frustration. DataFile can help you eliminate these types of calls and put companies like EMSI, MediConnect, PDC Retrievals and ExamOne on a Do Not Call list – freeing up your phone lines for more important people…like your patients!

Here are three proactive steps you can take to eliminate excessive calls from third party retrieval companies at your office:

1.    Let DataFile Know
The first and most important thing to do when you get excessive calls from a third party retrieval company is to inform DataFile of the situation so your staff doesn’t have to deal with it. We are in a position to contact that company on your behalf and inform the requestor not to call you for status updates (in essence fighting the fight for you), so you can focus on more important things in your day.

2.    Politely Inform the Caller & Hang Up
The second thing to do after you’ve notified us, is to politely let the person calling from the third party retrieval company know that you work with DataFile and inform them that they are on a “Do Not Call” list. Then you can politely hang up and let out a sigh of relief…the hard part is over, and they should not be calling to bug you anymore.

3.    Educate Your Staff
Of course, the first two steps are no good if your staff isn’t aware of this process. Be sure to notify all new staff members to contact DataFile first in the above situations, and remind them that they don’t have to take these kinds of calls. Also, emphasize that if they receive a voicemail message from companies like EMSI, they don’t have to return the phone call.

Have another medical records request question for the experts at DataFile? Ask us today and you may see the answer featured on our blog.

Scanning – How to Avoid the Two Week Lag

It’s plain and simple – an EMR does your practice no good when large volumes of patient information don’t get entered into the system. I recently came across a story illustrating the workflow challenges healthcare organizations sometimes face after converting their paper files to EMR. It highlights that even when an EMR is available for use, many clinical staff professionals are still reverting to using paper documentation whenever they can – which is causing a problem for getting access to critical patient information.

According to an Army Office of the Surgeon General internal message obtained by NextGov, U.S. Army mental health care providers treating soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are not consistently entering patient data into the DoD’s AHLTA EMR system. Instead, they have been documenting mental health encounters on paper behavioral records. As a result, the Army has become “saturated” with paper records. According to report, the Army lacks a system to scan and code the paper records so they could be searchable and retrievable from the DOD’s EMR system. A fact that is not helping the situation.

I doubt the DoD is the only organization facing this problem. I mean, if you’re a clinician who has used paper records for decades, and somebody suddenly tells you to totally change your work habits, resistance is only natural. The problem lies with critical patient data living in too many places – half on the EMR and half in paper records. This has the potential to cause serious patient harm, especially if you are a clinician who started receiving messages from IT along the lines of, “We’re two weeks behind on scanning – figure it out yourself.”

The challenge with overcoming the change in work habits after converting to an EMR is having a system in place to import data from existing paper archives quickly. That’s where a third party provider like DataFile Technologies can step in and help. DataFile’s scanning services can eliminate the “two week lag” by scanning, indexing and archiving your charts onto your network drive or EMR system. While we can’t change your staff’s behavior, we can help you overcome the challenge of getting data into your EMR system and help you regain the access you need to critical patient data WHEN you need it. Start a conversation with us today to learn more about our expert scanning staff and services today.

Now Hiring: Clinical Informatics Professionals…But Who’s Available?

As our economy begins to turn around, the US government is making it known through decreasing unemployment rates and publicity of the number of new jobs being created. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the healthcare sector is expanding. In December 2010, the BLS reported a gain of 36,000 jobs in the healthcare industry. A portion of these are health information technology positions.

A recent edition of HIMSS Vantage Point found that:

  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents, who represent provider, vendor, consulting and other work sites, hired IT FTEs during 2010.
  • Another two-thirds have the budget to hire additional IT FTEs in 2011.
  • Clinical informatics professionals and implementation experts are the two areas for which respondents anticipated that their organization would need to hire staff as the industry transitions from traditional, paper-based records to electronic health records.

Areas Anticipating Staff Hiring

While this is great news for clinical informatics professionals, the bad news is studies are finding newly formed clinical informatics positions are difficult to fill. Global consulting firm, Hay Group, found that 47% of healthcare organizations report challenges with recruitment, retention or both. This inability to find the right staff is affecting practices’ abilities to handle future work. In fact, sixty percent of the HIMSS survey respondents indicated that their IT projects would be slowed down because appropriate staff couldn’t be hired.

With so many hospitals and practices planning aggressive EHR implementation plans this year, these staffing challenges can be a huge roadblock. So what is a practice to do when they can’t get the clinical informatics resources they need? Hire a third party vendor like DataFile that’s already equipped with the right staff to handle facilitation of your conversion to EHR. Our highly-trained staff is HIPAA Certified can analyze your scanning needs, provide equipment and labor savings and truly become a value added partner in your implementation process. Hiring DataFile for your clinical informatics staffing needs also provides your practice with significant savings in training, turnover and labor expenses.

Contact DataFile to discuss how we can help you with your EHR conversion efforts today.

Tallgrass: A Story of Going Paperless



To offer exemplary patient care and maintain efficient practices – and to align with HHS meaningful use directives – healthcare providers are turning to technology solutions such as EMR/EHR platforms to enable success. With instant access to complete electronic records and the ability to prescribe, refer, chart, bill and more, practices are leveraging EMR technology to offer comprehensive patient care while maximizing operational efficiency and profitability.

Making the transition to EMR has many phases including the conversion of paper files into electronically formatted records which are then imported into the EMR software platform. Scanning for EMR conversion is typically a major undertaking and can be riddled with complications and unforeseen challenges for medical practices that choose to self-manage the full scanning process.
If your practice is thinking of going paperless but not sure of the process, the Tallgrass case study will help illuminate the many considerations of a large scale scanning project such as a conversion from paper records to electronic.  Follow the story of a seven provider orthopedic practice as they made the switch to a paperless office through their EMR conversion with the help of DataFile. Here are a few highlights from the case study:

Tallgrass Orthopedic & Sports Medicine, the longest running orthopedic practice in Topeka, Kansas, made the decision to convert their practice to EMR and went completely paperless to streamline their operations, improve efficiency and ensure that their primary focus remained on patient care. They had the benefit of having a Practice Administrator who had personally experienced an EMR conversion along with the challenges and inefficiencies of a self-managed scanning project with his former practice. With the benefit of his lessons learned and a clear set of goals and requirements, Tallgrass set out to select a scanning vendor that could conform to their practice management style and deliver reliable, affordable scanning services.

Ultimately for their EMR conversion, Tallgrass decided to scan full records off-site with the qualified and dedicated team of experts at DataFile Technologies. DataFile’s consultative approach coupled with their holistic view of the scanning project resulted in a tailored, cost-effective scanning solution and a positive overall experience for Tallgrass.

Download the Study