Springtime in February?
Hello everyone! It has certainly been a bit since we’ve posted on our Blog. It could be the remnants of a mild winter has affected our circadian rhythms? Regardless of spring-like weather in February, our team has been busy at the MediPro office handling an influx of interest in the medical software products and add-on services we offer. Two things we’ve been speaking a lot about lately are MediPro’s Billing and Cloud services. Since ICD-10 went into effect, medical practices want more assistance with their revenue cycle management process—we welcome you to Med-Ops. For those who no longer want to be attached to their brick and mortar—ultimately desire world-wide mobility to access patient information, ePrescribe, Chart, Bill and view provider schedules while on the go—we welcome you to the Cloud.
One of our long-term goals has always been to look for affordable, effective solutions to help your practice become more efficient through automation. Our trusted patient statements and pay services partner, BillFlash has recently announced new services to add to the mix. These are perfect for practices who are challenged by Accounts Receivable as well as those who want to make the check-in/check-out process relatively seamless.
StoredPay allows your office to securely store a patient’s preferred payment method that can be used to process monies for future dates of service and or retail products.
PlanPay payments are not associated with any single bill/statement but are simply part of a plan to pay off an established liability like a car loan payment would do. Create and automate payments for patient payment plans/agreements that are made (ex: payoff $2,400 liability by making a $100/mo. payment on the 15th of each month for 24 months).
Since a new spring season is officially right around the calendar, we had to share some of the new services that are available. It’s easy to get started, enrolled and begin enjoying additional automation—just like the perennials in your yard.
CMS News Update: Attest to 2016 Program Requirements by February 28
As circulated by CMS on 1/17/17
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Registration and Attestation System is now open. Providers participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program must attest to the 2016 program requirements by February 28, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. ET in order to avoid a 2018 payment adjustment. The EHR reporting period was any continuous 90 days between January 1 and December 31, 2016.
If you are participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, please refer to your state’s deadlines for attestation information.
If you are eligible to participate in both the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, you MUST demonstrate meaningful use to avoid the Medicare payment adjustment. You may demonstrate meaningful use under either Medicare or Medicaid.
Reminder: Remember to visit the registration tab in the Registration and Attestation system to ensure your personal information is accurate. For more information on registration, visit the Registration & Attestation page of the EHR Incentive Programs website.
Payment Adjustments and Hardship Exceptions
In January 2018, CMS will begin to apply payment adjustments for providers that did not successfully demonstrate meaningful use of EHR technology or apply for and receive a hardship exception for the 2016 program year. CMS will send a separate announcement with more information on the hardship exception application process, once available.
- Eligible Professional (EP) and Eligible Hospital and Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Attestation Worksheets
- EP and Eligible Hospital and CAH Attestation User Guides
- EP and Eligible Hospital and CAH Registration User Guides
- Attestation Batch Upload Webpage
For More Information
For questions about the Registration and Attestation System, contact the EHR Information Center at 1-888-734-6433 (press option 1). The EHR Information Center is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET, except federal holidays.
ICD-10 glitch leads CMS to relax physician quality penalties
The CMS issued something of a get-out-of-Medicare-penalties-free-card for two years to physicians and group practices due to a glitch with quality reporting measures based on a recent update to the ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure codes.
The CMS pointed its finger at updates that went into use Oct. 1, 2016, to the ICD-CM (Clinical Modification) and ICD-PCS (Procedural Coding System) and their impact on the Physician Quality Reporting System.
The updates “will impact CMS’s ability to process data reported on certain quality measures for the 4th quarter of CY 2016,” the agency said in a statement posted on its website.
The CMS said it will not apply the 2017 or 2018 PQRS payment adjustments to any “eligible professional” or “group practice that fails to satisfactorily report for (calendar year) 2016 solely as a result of the impact of ICD-10 code updates on quality data reported for the 4th quarter of (CY) 2016.”
“What they’re basically saying is that new coding updates apparently had some impact on their quality measures and they will not be able to process data on those,” said Stanley Nachimson, a health IT consultant expert on the ICD-10 codes. “It sounds like the first three quarters were fine, but in the fourth quarter it had some impact on their quality measures. They’re not going to penalize providers if they couldn’t come up with PQRS quality measures.”
Normally under the PQRS program, penalties are 2% of the Medicare fee schedule.
According to a page of frequently asked questions, problem areas concentrated in certain medical specialties, notes Sue Bowman, senior director of coding policy and compliance at the American Health Information Management Association.
“It says the majority of the codes are for diabetes, pregnancy, cardiovascular, oncology, mental health and eye diseases,” Bowman said.
So, when will the ICD-10 code update itself be updated?
Bowman said that’s not specified. But at least the CMS acknowledged the problem and is taking steps to correct it and mitigate its impact, she said.
“The CMS is pretty good about working with providers,” she said. “They recognized this is a problem and the providers shouldn’t be penalized for it.”
How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick
It’s that celebratory time of year where people both young and old make promises to themselves to improve upon their financial status, spend more quality time with family and minimize social history documentation in their medical record.
If you are like me, I have lofty aspirations to better myself so those around me can benefit too. I don’t necessarily have issue with creating the resolution however sticking to it can be a whole other chapter in a self-help book.
Luckily, I found this post online to share about actually following through on your resolutions. Happy 2017 from all of us at MediPro, Inc. We are truly thankful for our clients!
For many, sticking to a New Year’s resolution can be a breeze in the beginning, but as the year progresses, it becomes harder and harder to stay committed. It doesn’t have to be that way. Randy A. Shuck, DO, an osteopathic physician from St. Petersburg, Florida, outlines how to set a realistic resolution and stick to it by mentally preparing yourself.
Putting your goals in concrete, realistic terms and refusing to be derailed by mistakes can help you stick with your resolutions.
“People who are unsuccessful in keeping a New Year’s resolution often have problems identifying what they see as their final result,” says Dr. Shuck. “People might resolve to lose weight, keep a clean house, or spend more time with their children, but they don’t put their goals into concrete, realistic terms, such as losing 10 pounds, cleaning the house every other Sunday, or spending an hour a night playing a game or doing homework with their children. This lack of specificity can quickly lead to a failed resolution.”
6 Tips for Sticking With Your New Year’s Resolutions
To break the cycle of setting up and then giving up on a New Year’s resolution, Dr. Shuck outlines some tips for developing a realistic resolution and staying mentally strong all year long:
- Define your goal. Develop a time frame for your goal, with smaller goals to achieve along the way. For example, a goal of working out for 30 minutes every day should start with a small step such as 15 minutes every other day to work your way up to your goal. “When you are specific about what steps it will take to get you to your overall goal, your resolution will become easier to achieve,” says Dr. Shuck. “Make sure you can commit to the goal in the timeframe you give yourself.”
- Be mentally tough. Not every day is going to be easy. Knowing this ahead of time will prepare you for when you are tempted to break your resolution. “Have the power to keep moving towards your goal, no matter what setbacks may occur. When the going gets tough, get tougher,” says Dr. Shuck.
- Think positive. Thinking positively is a great trick when it comes to overcoming a bad habit, according to Dr. Shuck. “The voice inside your head needs to be thinking positive thoughts. Your own words of encouragement can eliminate self-doubt and will help when it’s tempting to fall back into old patterns,” he says.
- Be patient. Permanently changing your behavior can take months. You need to make a conscious effort to stay on track through the long process. “It takes more than just a physical action; mentally prepare yourself by accepting that it will take time to change,” says Dr. Shuck.
- Practice forward thinking. “Identify what went wrong in previous failed attempts at resolutions and then move on,” says Dr. Shuck. Don’t focus on what you have done in the past, only what you want to have in the future. “Picture what you want your end result to be. The feeling of future success should lead you forward,” he says.
- Choose not to fail. “No one but you can make your resolution happen,” says Dr. Shuck. Choose not to let mistakes derail you, take a day off every once in a while, power through the tough times, and see your end result. “When you make the decision to succeed, you leave no room to fail,” he says.
Keeping track of a resolution all year long can be difficult, but only if you let it. “Keep positive to enforce your positive change,” says Dr. Shuck. Use these tips as tools to keep you on track to a successful resolution. “The important thing is to remember that successfully changing your behavior comes from the inside out. Accept that it will take small steps in the right direction to have a positive outcome,” he concludes.
Meaningful Use Penalty to Hit 171,000 Clinicians Next Year
Next year 171,000 physicians, nurse practitioners, and other clinicians will take a 3% pay cut from Medicare for failing to demonstrate that they met the government’s requirements for meaningful use of an electronic health record (EHR) system in 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced.
A government liaison for a major medical association blames CMS for setting up clinicians to fail in the controversial EHR incentive program. However, there’s hope that the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump might undo the damage.
The snafu, said Robert Tennant, director of health information technology policy for the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), goes back to October 6, 2015, when CMS issued its final Stage 2 rules for achieving meaningful use that year and avoiding a penalty in 2017. The agency said clinicians needed to meet the requirements only during a 90-day stretch of 2015. However, there were fewer than 90 days left in 2015 by October 6.
Fearful of widespread penalties, Congress passed a bill in December 2015 that allowed CMS to depart from its usual policy of granting meaningful use hardship exemptions on a case-by-case basis and grant one for an entire category of physicians who were beset by “extreme and uncontrollable circumstances” (as in tardy government regulations).
Many physicians apparently didn’t take advantage of this escape hatch, given the multitude facing a penalty next year, MGMA’s Robert Tennant said.
“What this tells me is that CMS didn’t do a sufficient job of outreach, letting physicians know that this hardship exception was available,” MGMA’s Tennant told Medscape Medical News. “Frankly, it’s unfair. They should have given everybody a hardship exception.”
Asked if CMS was responsible for many physicians flunking meaningful use in 2015 by issuing its final regulations so late that year, Tennant replied, “Absolutely.” CMS did not respond to a request for a comment on the matter as of 5 PM CST today.
“A Tough Sell”
After Trump takes office next month, MGMA may ask the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to waive the penalty, Tennant said. “It will be a tough sell,” he said. “My guess is, the Trump administration will have bigger fish to fry in healthcare.”
Trump’s choice to head HHS is Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-GA), a fierce critic of government regulation in healthcare. “We may have a more sympathetic ear should Dr Price be confirmed as HHS secretary,” Tennant said.
One drawback to a waiver of the next year’s meaningful use penalty, he noted, would be the need to reprocess potentially millions of Medicare claims paid for services rendered beginning on January 1 at the reduced rate.
The number of clinicians facing a meaningful use pay cut in 2017 is down from 209,000 penalized in 2016, and 256,000 in 2015. The last year for a penalty — and the EHR meaningful use program itself — is 2018. However, elements of meaningful use will live on in the new reimbursement system created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.