CMS Extends Attestation Period for 2013 Reporting Year; 2014 Requirements Remain
Key Takeaway: CMS has granted a reprieve to providers unable to attest to Meaningful Use for fiscal year 2013 because of technical problems with the attestation website. The original deadline for attesting was Feb. 28, 2014, but CMS announced last week that eligible professionals now have until March 31. Eligible hospitals' reporting deadline has already passed, but CMS is allowing them to retroactively attest to meaningful use through March 15.
Why it Matters: The extension will provide more time for providers to submit data and receive an incentive payment for 2013, as well as avoid the 2015 penalties. CIOs should continue to monitor the performance of the attestation website and contact the EHR Incentive Program Help Desk to report problems.
Faced with mounting complaints over a slow and non-functioning attestation website, CMS announced last week that it was giving additional time for providers to attest to Meaningful Use for program year 2013. CIOs were reporting system freezes and slow-loading pages associated with CMS’s attestation website for weeks. In response, CMS pushed out the deadline for eligible professionals (EPs) to attest until the end of March and gave hospitals (some of which have been trying attest since November) until March 15. CMS said it also will look to improve site performance by conducting upgrades.
Any CIOs whose organizations are continuing to have problems should contact the “EHR Incentive Program Help Desk” and consider communicating their issues with CHIME staff. However, these deadline extensions don’t affect 2014 reporting year requirements: eligible hospitals (EHs) have to begin collecting data using 2014 Edition CEHRT by July 1, and EPs have until Oct. 1 to meet new meaningful use requirements.
Federal Health Agencies Preview Standards, Interoperability Work in 2014
Key Takeaway: The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has been quietly teasing out a roadmap for interoperability over the last few weeks. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials say they have plans to release draft guidance in 2014 on how manufacturers can improve the interoperability of medical devices.
Why it Matters: The regulatory realms of FDA, ONC and other federal agencies is converging. Developing a clear standards strategy and roadmap for interoperability will be one of the most important policy conversations in 2014. Moreover, each agency described the need to create “test beds,” and that could directly impact healthcare CIOs.
During an event held in Washington last week, officials from ONC and FDA discussed their views on the current state of interoperability and offered thoughts on where their agencies may collaborate in the future. ONC’s Chief Science Officer, Doug Fridsma, M.D. and Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., Director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said both agencies are working to align standards for medical devices and electronic health records. During a presentation at the Health IT Policy Committee, Dr. Fridsma unveiled his Office’s strategy to develop standards that “leverages government as a platform” and builds “incremental steps,” towards standards interoperability. Likewise, Dr. Shuren said his office would issue, “draft guidance this coming year about how we think about interoperability and issue recommendations for how devices manufactures should be thinking about it.”
Several policy pieces are beginning to surface, and CHIME Public Policy will ensure that healthcare IT executives continue to have a voice in the conversations. If you’re interested in lending your experience, please contact Jeff Smith, Senior Director of Federal Affairs, at email@example.com.
ONC Looks to Fill Seats on Federal Advisory Committees
Key Takeaway: ONC is looking to fill four spots on its Health IT Policy Committee and Health IT Standards Committee.
Why it Matters: Much of the policymaking for meaningful use and other health IT programs comes from these committees. Very few CIOs sit on these groups, and their experience as implementers is greatly needed.