Exam Lane: EHR VisionWeb's I.O. View [SPONSORED]: Two Important Facts About Meaningful Use By Staff Sunday, June 01, 2014 10:00 AM It can be hard to keep track of the constant changes to deadlines and programs regarding healthcare, Meaningful Use, and ICD-10. The biggest one affecting most optometrists this year is the deadline for participating in the Meaningful Use program and we want to help you understand and remember all of the important information and dates that could affect your practice. Fact #1: If you don't start Meaningful Use by 2014, you will be hit with payment adjustments. Payment adjustments begin at the start of 2015, and in order to avoid them you will need to submit your Stage 1 attestation by October 1 this year! Here's how it works: You only receive payments after your first 90 day reporting period. To avoid the adjustments in 2015, you will need to factor in a 90 day reporting period before the start of 2015. Therefore, your reporting period must occur in the first 9 months of 2014 (no later than October 1, 2014.) But wait, there's more! Payment adjustments technically begin in 2015, so if you miss the October 1 attestation deadline, you still have the option to submit your attestation between October and December of 2014 and receive your incentives, but you will still be penalized on your first year. If you begin with Meaningful Use this year you're still able to receive $24,000 when you complete all of the stages of the program. If you don't participate, then starting in 2015 your practice will be subjected to payment adjustments to your Medicare reimbursements that start at 1 percent per year, up to a maximum 5 percent annual adjustment. Once you get in your 90 day reporting period for Stage 1 completed this year, you must continue to demonstrate Meaningful Use every year to avoid adjustments in subsequent years. But we recommend getting started as soon as possible, because attestation may not be successful the first time, and you might need extra time to resubmit your attestation. Fact #2: The Stage 3 delay to 2017 will not affect payment adjustments starting in 2015. Stage 3 has been delayed to begin in 2017, instead of 2016. While the new timeline for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use will bring about a few changes, a delay in payment adjustments is not one of them. You will still be held accountable in 2015 if you aren't participating in the program. The delay will only affect early adopters of the program who started in 2011 or 2012. Early adopters will stay in Stage 2 for another year in 2016. Payment adjustments will still begin on January 1, 2015 but here are a few exceptions to payment adjustments in 2015 for eligible professionals experiencing hardships. Here are a few of the circumstances that allow you apply for hardship exemptions: Newly practicing eligible professionals who would not have had time to participate in the Meaningful Use Program. If you begin practicing in 2015 you may receive an exception to the payment adjustments in 2015 and 2016, but would have to begin demonstrating Meaningful Use in 2016 to avoid payment adjustments in 2017. 2014 EHR vendor issues. If you started the program before 2014 and would like to continue using the system for Stage 2, you may apply for the exemption if your EHR vendor was unable to obtain 2014 certification. Infrastructure issues. You must be able to show that you are in an area without sufficient Internet access. Unpredictable circumstances, such as natural disasters. These will be evaluated by the CMS on a case-by-case basis. Note that your application must be submitted this year, and that an application is not a guaranteed exception. This piece was contributed by the Uprise blog. Uprise is a cloud-based practice management and EHR solution by VisionWeb. View the original post here: 2 Important Facts About Meaningful Use and Your EHR Software.