Meeting the Electronic Medical Records Compliance Deadline: What You Need to Know

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed trying to decipher the intricate web of compliance regulations for electronic medical records (EMRs)? 

For healthcare providers across the United States, achieving EMR compliance has been a complicated journey full of changing requirements and ambiguous deadlines. However, establishing EMR compliance is crucial for optimizing clinical workflows, ensuring proper reimbursements, and providing high-quality patient care

Navigating the Complex Journey to EMR Compliance

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If you're like most aesthetic providers, the looming electronic medical records (EMR) compliance deadline has you worried. Switching from paper to EMR is a big change, and with the deadline fast approaching, you may be wondering:

  • What exactly is the EMR compliance deadline?
  • What are the requirements I need to meet?
  • When do I need to have EMR fully implemented?
  • What happens if I don't comply on time?

At Calysta EMR, we understand the stress this deadline is causing aesthetic practices. As leaders in practice management software designed specifically for aesthetic providers, we're here to help guide you through this transition.

This article will explore the key deadlines healthcare providers face on the road to EMR compliance while providing historical context and actionable steps you can take for success..

What are the key deadlines for achieving EMR compliance in the US?

The path to EMR compliance has been marked by several pivotal deadlines that have changed the game for healthcare providers across the country. Here are some of the major dates you need to be aware of:

January 1, 2014 - Deadline for Meaningful Use Stage 1

This deadline marked the kickoff of the Meaningful Use (MU) program, which required eligible providers to demonstrate meaningful use of ONC-certified electronic health record (EHR) technology in order to maintain their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. 

To successfully attest for Meaningful Use Stage 1, you had to meet objectives focused on electronically capturing health information in a structured format, implementing clinical decision support tools, and reporting on quality measures. 

Many providers found this initial stage extremely burdensome, with over 60% of providers failing to meet the requirements in 2014. However, the MU program transformed the digitization of healthcare in the United States.

December 31, 2022 – Deadline for 2015 Edition Cures Update

As EMR technology advanced and interoperability came into focus, compliance requirements evolved as well. 

This update established key criteria focused on improving interoperability and data sharing through enhanced application programming interfaces (APIs), easier health information exchange (HIE), and increased transparency. Updating to EHR systems that meet the 2015 Edition Cures Update requirements will be crucial for seamlessly sharing patient data.

December 31, 2023 – Promoting Interoperability (PI) Program Deadline

Replacing the MU program altogether is the Promoting Interoperability (PI) program enacted under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). This program shifts the focus to reducing administrative burden while promoting nationwide interoperability and health information exchange. 

To meet this deadline, you’ll need to prove adoption of certified EHR technology, data submission for clinical quality measures, implementation of patient engagement tools, and demonstrated exchange of patient data with other providers. This deadline represents the next phase of EMR compliance, offering more flexibility while still prioritizing improved care coordination through robust data sharing.

What are the current EMR compliance requirements under the PI program?

As you gear up for the PI program deadline, you must become familiar with the four key requirements you’ll need to fulfill:

  1. Using ONC-certified EHR technology – At the core of the PI program is the use of an EHR system that has been certified by the ONC Health IT Certification Program to meet interoperability, functionality and security requirements. Checking to ensure you have up-to-date certified technology is an essential first step.
  2. Submitting clinical quality measures – This critical requirement focuses on leveraging your EHR data to drive quality improvement. You’ll need to submit performance data on key quality measures for applicable conditions that your practice treats. Small and rural practices may be exempt from this requirement in their first year with the PI program.
  3. Engaging in patient and family engagement activities – The PI program emphasizes the importance of patient-centered care through activities like providing patients electronic access to their records, sharing educational materials, and communicating through secure messaging. You’ll want to assess how effectively you are integrating technologies to foster patient engagement.
  4. Promoting information exchange – Central to the goals of the PI program is sharing patient health data seamlessly across the healthcare ecosystem. You’ll need to prove you are exchanging patient data with other providers, such as through regional health information exchanges (HIEs), to avoid reimbursement penalties.

What is the historical context of EMR compliance in the US?

The path to widespread EMR adoption we've seen in recent years is far from an overnight success. It has taken over a decade of evolving regulations and healthcare policies to get us to this point. Here is some important historical context:

The HITECH Act Lays the Groundwork

A major turning point was the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, which established financial incentives for eligible providers to adopt and meaningfully use EMRs. HITECH represented an unprecedented investment in digitizing medicine, although it left some ambiguity around compliance timelines and requirements.

Meaningful Use Program Phases in EMR Adoption

The Meaningful Use (MU) program, enacted under HITECH in 2010, aimed to clarify compliance stages and gave rise to the standards we still follow today. The program went through 3 progressive stages, each with its own objectives providers had to meet through their EMR systems, such as ePrescribing, HIE connectivity and patient portal implementation. Each stage expanded the use cases and complexities.

Overcoming Implementation Challenges

While HITECH and meaningful use represented major steps forward, the transition was not easy for many providers. Medical practices faced high costs in purchasing new EMR systems, as well as burdensome reporting requirements and workflow disruptions. However, those who made it through the growing pains realized benefits such as reduced errors, improved population health management, and higher patient satisfaction.

Continuous Refinement Leads to PI Program

Based on feedback from struggling providers, subsequent legislation sought to simplify EMR compliance requirements. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 led to today's PI program, which focuses more on interoperability and patient engagement rather than strict system functionalities like earlier stages. Compliance expectations continue to evolve.

In closing

a medical doctor checking health records

With Calysta EMR, you can approach EMR compliance with total confidence. We make the transition smooth, allowing you to focus on patient care and business growth.

Schedule a free demo now to learn how Calysta can solve your unique practice needs while keeping you compliant. The deadline for action will be here before you know it, so it's crucial to partner with the right EMR company now.

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