The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has put together a meaningful use timeline that highlights this year’s key dates for the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs. These dates include last Monday, when about a dozen state-run Medicaid EHR incentive programs came online, as did the federal Medicare EHR incentive program.
Other important dates in the 2011 meaningful use timeline include the following:
- May 1: Issuing of Medicare EHR incentive payments is expected to begin.
- July 3: The last day for eligible hospitals to begin their 90-day reporting period. The hospital program is based on the federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
- Oct. 3: The final day for eligible professionals (EPs) to begin their 90-day reporting period. The EP program is based on the calendar year, which ends Dec. 31.
- Nov. 30: The last day for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals, or CAHs, to register for an incentive payment for the 2011 federal fiscal year.
Last week’s announcement did not include a deadline for EPs to register for payment for the 2011 calendar year. Drawing from the meaningful use timeline for hospitals, which gives them two months to complete the necessary documentation, it looks like the last day for EPs to register for payment will be around Feb. 29, 2012.
So far, things have progressed well — more than 4,000 providers have applied for EHR incentive funds and already two states have awarded EHR incentive checks. Last year’s concerns about the tight meaningful use timeline, which requires all health care providers to adopt EHR technology by 2015, appear to be muted, at least for now.