Meaningful use: Important deadlines are approaching

July 10, 2013

October 3, 2013, is the last day doctors and other eligible professionals (EPs) can begin the attestation process to qualify for the first stage of meaningful use (MU1) in 2013.

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Meaningful use, the government program of financial rewards and penalties for encouraging doctors to use electronic health records (EHRs), has several important deadlines approaching. October 3, 2013, is the last day doctors and other eligible professionals (EPs) can begin the attestation process to qualify for the first stage of meaningful use (MU1) in 2013.  (The reporting period for MU1 attestation is 90 days.)

February 28, 2014, is the final deadline for reporting attestation results for 2013 and qualifying for the Medicare MU financial bonus. The final 2013 deadline for Medicaid attestation varies from state to state, so EPs need to check with their state Medicaid agency to learn their state’s deadline. EPs qualifying for the first time in 2013 under the Medicare program will receive $15,000, and those qualifying under Medicaid will receive $21,250.

In addition, EPs will be able to begin attesting to the second stage of meaningful use (MU2) on January 1, 2014. The MU2 attestation period for 2014 will be 90 days, but in 2015 and beyond will be for a full calendar year. That’s because the MU certification requirements for EHR systems will change in 2014, says Robert Anthony, deputy director of the health information technology initiatives group in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The briefer reporting period will give EPs additional time to acquire or upgrade to MU2-certified technology.

Medicaid EPs can choose any 90-day period in 2014 in which to attest, but Medicare EP attestation periods will start on January 1, April 1, July 1, or October 1.

Like MU1, qualifying for MU 2 requires meeting a series of core (required) and menu (optional) objectives. A complete list of MU2 objectives is available on the CMS Web site at www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/Downloads/Stage2_MeaningfulUseSpecSheet_TableContents_EPs.pdf.

A self-directed timeline showing the length of time required to demonstrate meaningful use at each stage and the maximum incentive payment for each year of participation is available at www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/Participation-Timeline.html#.UcoEHOvgKS4.