Yesterday the Department of Health and Human Services released final rules related to electronic health records (EHR) and health information technology (HIT). While at this time physical therapists are not directly affected by the rules related to meaningful use under Medicare and Medicaid, they should remain aware of issues relating to HIT technology, particularly in this dynamic health care delivery environment.
The final rule on Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Electronic Health Record Incentive Program—Stage 2 specifies the necessary criteria eligible professionals (EP) and eligible hospitals (including critical access hospitals) must meet to receive incentive payments for achieving Stage 2 meaningful use requirements with their certified EHR systems. The rule also specifies payment adjustments for entities and providers that do not meet meaningful use requirements and other program requirements. Physical therapists are not yet defined as eligible professionals for demonstrating meaningful use and, therefore, are not subject to these payment adjustments for failing to demonstrate meaningful use. Certain criteria previously specified in regulations have also been revised, including certain Stage 1 criteria, such as allowing "states the option for their providers to calculate total Medicaid encounters or total needy individual patient encounters in any representative, continuous 90-day period in the 12 months preceding the EP or eligible hospital's attestation" for those participants in the Medicaid Incentive Program.
The second rule relating to EHR certification criteria identifies the implementation specifications and other technical standards that EPs' and hospitals' EHR systems must meet to be deemed certified for supporting meaningful use requirements. These systems must be capable of meeting these standards and specifications, at a minimum, by fiscal and calendar year 2014 to be able to support eligible entities in achieving their meaningful use requirements. Additionally, the rule revises the HIT permanent certification and changes the name to the ONC HIT Certification Program. This final rule is titled Health Information Technology: Standards, Implementation Specifications, and Certification Criteria for Electronic Health Record Technology, 2014 Edition; Revisions to the Permanent Certification Program for Health Information Technology.
APTA will post summaries of both rules on the APTA website at a later date.
While physicians and hospitals are the beneficiaries of many of the federal government's initial efforts to encourage EHR system adoption, they will expect the other providers they work with, including physical therapists, to implement it as well. Patients also may begin to expect their providers to use EHRs to manage their care. Visit APTA's HIT webpage for resources and updates on HIT program development and legislation, as well as APTA's related advocacy efforts.