'Meaningful Use' Menu Adds Ingredients for Incentives

November 30, 2010

CMS has now published a 44-page "EHR Core and Menu Measures" document putting a little meat on the bones of their objectives through greater explanation of exactly what they expect you to do in return for proper payment.

Have you ever been to a restaurant, glanced up and down at the delicious entrees listed before you and wondered: It sounds good, but what exactly is in that?

Since July, you've likely been staring at the list of 25 meaningful use objectives set forth by CMS as mouthwatering tidbits to choose from in order to access incentive funding under Stage 1. Perhaps you've already made your choice of what 15 required core objectives and 5 additional objectives from a list of 10 that your practice can achieve and you are ready to order.

But wait. CMS has now published a 44-page "EHR Core and Menu Measures" document putting a little meat on the bones of their objectives through greater explanation of exactly what they expect you to do in return for proper payment.

For example, perhaps you've looked at the list of 10 added objectives and have your eye on "Generate lists of patients by specific conditions." Seems easy, but what does that really mean? How many lists? Which patients?

According to CMS's new document, the full objective is actually: "Generate lists of patients by specific conditions to use for quality improvement, reduction of disparities, research, or outreach." Still what you thought you were ordering?

CMS notes that this measure is to generate "at least one" report listing patients of the EP [eligible professional] with a specific condition. It defines "specific conditions" as those listed in the "active patient problem list." Hmm, still sound appetizing?

The federal body also informs those seeking incentives by meeting this particular objective, there is no dictated reports that must be generated as an eligible professional "is best positioned to determine which reports are most useful to their care efforts." Also, the report "could cover" every patient in your EHR, "or a subset of those patients," and that the report generated is required "to include only patients whose records are maintained using certified EHR technology."

Did you lose your appetite yet? Are you rethinking your choice? Do you need a few more minutes?

The new document is great in that finally, there is some guidance and clearance from CMS on their 25 objectives that have been out for almost five months. But, like the restaurant menu analogy, does it tell you what you want to know in a manner that helps you make the best decisions or has it confused you even more?

Given the fact that any set of edicts from a government body have to be fully detailed, vetted, vetted again, and then released, should CMS have issued their EHR Core and Menu Measures at the same time as the 25 core objectives?

Look over the document, see if the page or more description of the four to five word objective phrases really mean what you thought for months and let us know what you think. We'll be back to take your order shortly.