Navigating the gray areas of meaningful use
Specialty providers who have pursued meaningful use incentives can confirm that the program certainly was not designed for them. That’s not to say that the incentives aren’t worth the effort, however.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has paid out more than $25.7 billion in incentive payments as of Dec. 1, 2014. Any provider who has implemented an EMR and realizes significant revenue from Medicare or Medicaid billings, but didn’t take the time to seriously look into meaningful use, may have left money on the table — and may be subject to penalties that begin in 2015.
Unfortunately, because meaningful use wasn’t designed with specialists in mind, it requires a little more legwork on the practitioner’s side. Specialists fall in the EP or “eligible professionals” (as opposed to hospitals) category, and what CMS had in mind in designating EPs was clearly tailored for family practice and internal medicine, rather than for specialists. In fact, some of the program’s requirements have proven to be completely inapplicable to certain specialties. To accommodate them, CMS created exclusions.
CMS publishes a specialist tipsheet with criteria to guide specialists in determining which exclusions might apply, but leaves that determination completely up to each specialist who elects to pursue meaningful use incentives. Click here to read more.