More than 56,000 providers have registered for the Medicare or Medicaid electronic health records meaningful use programs through May 2011, officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services noted during a Health Data Management Web seminar on June 21.

Through May, state Medicaid agencies have paid more than $114 million in incentive payments and Medicare payments have hit $75.8 million, said Jessica Kahn, the agency's Technical Director for Health IT in the Center for Medicaid, CHIP, Survey and Certification.

Robert Anthony, Health Insurance Specialist in CMS' Office of E-Health Standards and Services, walked Web seminar attendees through the registration and attestation processes and answered questions. He advised to register long before being ready to attest for meaningful use to ensure any problems are resolved and attestation doesn't get delayed. "Registration in the program doesn't commit you to anything."

Providers register for the Medicare or Medicaid programs on the same CMS Web site, but those attesting to Medicaid meaningful use will do so on a state-specific Web site. Other tips from Anthony include:

* Get your EHR's meaningful use certification number (which is required) from the government's Certified HIT Product List Web site, not the vendor.

* A provider can leave the Medicare attestation system during the process and save the data already inputted, then return later to complete the task before data is submitted to CMS.

* On attestation pages, most measures have a data field for the numerator first followed by the denominator, but the boxes are reversed for clinical quality measures.

* The registration does not currently support batch registration of eligible professionals, Anthony confirmed, so EPs must be registered on an individual basis.  He added CMS is asked about this frequently and plans to address the issue in the future.

* Eligible providers can designate a third party, such as an office manager, to register and attest on their behalf.

* A provider who fails attestation need not wait for 90 days to re-attest, but can select a different 90-day reporting period--even if it varies by only a day or so from the previous period. For instance, barely missing a required numerator for a specific measure may be fixed by changing the reporting period by a few days, a week or a month.

* The current timeline for Stage 2 meaningful use is publication of a proposed rule in January 2012 and a final rule in June 2012.

Greenway Medical Technologies sponsored the HDM Web seminar, which soon will be archived and available here.


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