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Massena Memorial earns incentives for health IT work

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MASSENA - Massena Memorial Hospital is pleased to announce that the hospital attested to the Meaningful Use Phase I of the Medicare Electronic Health Records (EHR) incentive program.

“The MMH Meaningful Use team has worked extremely hard over the last few years to accomplish this phase in our information technology strategic plan,” CEO Charles F. Fahd II, FACHE, said. “The development of the EHR improves care by enabling functions that the paper records cannot deliver, improving patient safety, privacy and continuity of care.”

Meaningful use (MU), in a health information technology (HIT) context, defines the use of EHR and related technology within a healthcare organization. Achieving meaningful use also helps determine whether an organization will receive payments from the federal government under either the Medicare EHR Incentive Program or the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

“Massena Memorial Hospital attested to the Meaningful Use Phase I which means the hospital demonstrated meaningful use of certified EHR technology,” Chief Financial Officer Sean Curtin, CPA, said. “We began the Medicaid participation in 2011, which meant a reimbursement incentive to MMH of $574,478. Last week we attested to the Medicare EHR Phase I incentive program which MMH will see an additional $1,365,527 reimbursement from Medicare.”

Curtin added the hospital has qualified to attest for year two for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program and will realize another $459,527 incentive payment.

The Medicare EHR Incentive Program provides incentive payments to hospitals as they adopt, implement, upgrade and demonstrate meaningful use of EHR technology in our first year of participation and demonstrate meaningful use for up to five remaining participating years. MMH has been working on this for the past three years.

According to the provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, organizations that are eligible for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and achieve meaningful use by 2014 will be eligible for incentive payments; those who have failed to achieve that standard by 2015 may be penalized.

To receive the maximum reimbursement, physicians and hospitals must achieve stage 1 of meaningful use of EHR for at least a 90-day period within the 2011 or 2012 federal fiscal year and for the entire year thereafter.

“The Meaningful Use program at MMH is a hospital wide effort from Information Technology, the medical staff, nursing and all employees; this is why we are so successful. IT sets up the framework, but the clinical staff has to implement the program in their day to day operations,” Chief Information Officer/Information Technology DirectorJana Grose said.

EHRs do not achieve these benefits merely by transferring information from paper form into digital form.EHRs can only deliver their benefits when the information and the EHR are standardized and “structured” in uniform ways, just as ATMs depend on uniformly structured data.Therefore, the “meaningful use” approach requires identification of standards for EHR systems.

Similarly, EHRs cannot achieve their full potential if providers don’t use the functions that deliver the most benefit – for example, exchanging information, and entering orders through the computer so that the “decision support” functions and other automated processes are activated.Therefore, the “meaningful use” approach requires that providers meet specified objectives in the use of EHRs, in order to qualify for the incentive payments.

For example: basic information needs to be entered into the qualified EHR so that it exists in the “structured” format; information exchange needs to begin; security checks need to be routinely made; and medical orders need to be made using Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE).These requirements begin at lower levels in the first stage of meaningful use, and are expected to be phased in over five years.

“When Meaningful Use was first introduced, it was clear tackling the project would require dedication and teamwork from clinicians and non-clinical staff. It is gratifying to have successfully met the stage I requirements,” Director of Health Information Services/Privacy OfficerJulie Zyzik said.

The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) worked with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and other parts of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish regulations for stage 1 of the meaningful use incentive program.

Meaningful use stage 1 is the first phase of the United States federal government’s meaningful use incentive program which MMH attested to. The list of criteria and regulations for Phase I was established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT in July 2010.

Consisting of 25 total criteria, the list for meaningful use stage 1 is broken into 15 core requirements and 10 menu requirements. All core requirements are mandatory, while health care providers can choose five of the 10 menu requirements to meet.

Within the confines of meaningful use stage 1, MMH implemented an EHR that meets the listed criteria by the end of 2014 in order to be eligible for government incentives. In order to receive the maximum incentive, providers must have achieved meaningful use for at least 90 days by the end of the 2012 federal fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2012).

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