Blumenthal Says Specialists Can Be Exempt From Some MU Rules

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is trying to publicize that specialists can meet requirements for the "meaningful use" incentive payment program by taking advantage of exceptions in the final rule, American Medical News reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Specialists have expressed concern about meeting requirements specified for the meaningful use of EHRs, saying that their practices cannot meet some of the objectives. Some specialists say that it would be more beneficial if they had separate meaningful use rules.

ONC Responds

ONC has not issued a formal statement for specialists aiming to meet the standards, but National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal has attended multiple meetings to explain how specialists can meet the requirements. Blumenthal said that specialists could claim exceptions to rules that do not apply to them and that claiming exceptions is acceptable to meeting the requirement.

Derek Robinson, medical director of the HHS Region 5, said that when specialists choose which objectives from a menu set to focus on, an objective that does not apply to their practice can be considered as having been met (Dolan, American Medical News, 11/15).

Jessica Kahn
D Mitchell- yes, you are misunderstanding. The CMS final rule has always indicated that some providers could attest to being exempt from specific MU measures because it does not apply to their practice or patients (e.g. dentists and immunizations or nurse-midwives and e-prescribing). This is nothing new- just getting press because of Dr. Blumenthal's presentation.
Mitchell Goldburgh
Is imaging now going to be considered a specialty?
Doug Mitchell
Am I misunderstanding Blumental? If not, ONC might let specialists meet the letter of the law -- while dodging its spirit. Specialists could count an unlimited number of exceptions as meeting menu set objectives. So, if 5 or fewer of the 10 menu set Meaningful Use objectives *apply* to a specialty, NONE would have to *actually* be met.

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