How to Avoid Meaningful Use Penalties in 2016

In this months post, we take a look at a recent article posted on Radiology and HIT Blog discusses two ways to avoid MU penalties coming next year.

The negative payment adjustments for non-participation in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program (“Meaningful Use” or MU) will increase to -2% off covered professional services in calendar year (CY) 2016. Physicians who are eligible for the Medicare version of the program will have two ways to avoid the 2016 penalties:

Option 1: Compliance

  • Prior MU participants must have been a Meaningful EHR User in 2014 to avoid the 2016 penalties. If the prior MU participant was not MU-compliant in 2014, he/she must use Option 2 below.
  • Those who have never participated in MU must begin participating by July 1, 2015 and complete the attestation process by October 1, 2015 (at the latest) to avoid 2016 penalties. If the first-time participant does not meet the attestation deadline, he/she must use Option 2 below.

Option 2: Significant hardship exception

Regardless of whether or not a physician was MU compliant in the past, he/she can obtain one of several “significant hardship exceptions” to avoid 2016 penalties. CMS can grant these to physicians on an annual basis for up to 5 total years. The various available significant hardship exceptions are as follows:

  • Lacking broadband/infrastructure
  • Newly practicing
  • Extreme and uncontrollable circumstances
  • Inability to influence availability of certified EHR technology (CEHRT)
  • Lack of face-to-face/telemedicine interaction with patients AND lack of need for follow-up
  • Primary specialty listing in PECOS

Read more on the Radiology and HIT Blog.

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Stage 1 Changes in 2013 and What’s Coming in 2014

In this month’s post, we take a look at Stage 1 changes that took effect this year and what’s to come next year. 

As the end of 2013 draws near, we examine Stage 1 changes that went into effect, those that were optional, and those that will take effect in 2014. It is important to familiarize yourself as you prepare to begin, or continue, participation in the program next year.

Removed in 2013

  • Electronic Exchange of Key Clinical Information: This objective was removed for Stage 1 for EPs, EHs, and CAHs.

Required in 2013

  • Public Health Reporting Objectives: Clarification that providers must perform at least one test of their CEHRT’s capability to send data to public health agencies, except where prohibited.

Optional in 2013+

  • Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE): Alternative measure added based on the total number of medication orders created during the EHR reporting period (option to choose the alternative measure in 2013 and beyond).
  • ePrescribing: Additional exclusion to the objective for electronic prescribing for providers who are not within a 10 mile radius of a pharmacy that accepts electronic prescriptions (optional to select the additional exclusion starting in 2013 and beyond).

Required in 2014

  • Public Health Reporting Objectives: Clarification that providers must perform at least one test of their CEHRT’s capability to send data to public health agencies, except where prohibited.
  • Electronic Copy of and Electronic Access to Health Information: In order to better align Stage 1 objectives with the new 2014 capabilities of CEHRT, CMS is replacing several Stage 1 objectives for providing electronic copies of and electronic access to health information with objectives to provide patients the ability to view, download, or transmit their health information or hospital admission information online. The capability to provide patients online access to this information will be a part of CEHRT beginning in 2014, therefore new Stage 1 objectives will be required beginning in 2014.
  • Record and Chart Changes in Vital Signs: Increase in age limit for recording blood pressure in patients to age 3; removal of age limit requirement for height and weight (optional in 2013; required in 2014+)
  • Menu Objective Exclusions: Beginning in 2014, eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals (EHs), and critical access hospitals (CAHs) will no longer be permitted to count an exclusion toward the minimum of 5 menu objectives on which they must report if there are other menu objectives which they can select. EPs, EHs, and CAHs will not be penalized for selecting a menu objective and claiming the exclusion if they would also qualify for the exclusions for all the remaining menu objectives.

In addition to the updates above, beginning this year, the Stage 1 objective requiring clinical quality measure (CQM) reporting has been incorporated directly into the definition of a meaningful EHR user.

For more information, visit the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website.

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New Book Helps Radiology Professionals Navigate First 2 Years of Meaningful Use

Concise Guide Provides the Essential Information Radiologist’s Need to Tackle Stage 1 Meaningful Use and Prepare for Stage 2

In their new book, The Radiologist’s Essentials to Meaningful Use: Essentials for Your First 2 Years (ISBN: 978-0615563169), Jonathon L. Dreyer and Dr. Keith J. Dreyer help radiologists and imaging practices understand required Stage 1 activities, develop group policies, take advantage of workload reduction opportunities, understand program changes, and prepare for what’s to come in Stage 2 Meaningful Use.

Ideal for everyone involved in the management and delivery of imaging services—ranging from radiologists to practice administrators, IT leads and CIOs, to healthcare IT vendors, and others—this guide delivers key concepts and pertinent information when they’re needed most.

Achieving Meaningful Use Success in Your First 2 Years

This handy, concise book provides all of the essential information radiology professionals need as they prepare for, and actively participate in, their first 2 years of meaningful use.  The authors have taken key material from their first work on the subject, augmenting it judiciously, adding updates to the program, cross-referencing everything, and organizing it according to what’s most important during an eligible professional’s (EP’s) initial years of program participation.

  • Part I takes a detailed look at the criteria that makes up Stage 1 Meaningful Use and provides a systematic approach to presenting key program requirements, offering workload reduction considerations and practice-level policy guidance, breaking down functional tasks, and outlining attestation specifications.
  • Part II moves beyond Stage 1 and examines Stage 2 Meaningful Use and the impact the Stage 2 Final Rules have on Stage 1 of the program.
  • Part III provides a compilation of useful FAQs as well as a variety of tools and resources to help you during your first two years of meaningful use and beyond.

This new book is an ideal on-the-job reference and perfect companion to the first work on this topic by the authors, The Radiologist’s Guide to Meaningful Use: A step-by-step approach to the Stage 1 CMS EHR Incentive Programs (ISBN: 978-0615563169).

Ready to learn more, buy a book today!

Go to to learn more. Buy a book from the official e-store ( or (