CMS clarifies patient data request info for EHRs

In its "Frequently Asked Questions" section on Meaningful Use and incentives, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this week added a response about when patients should receive copies of their electronic health information as spelled out under the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs.

CMS notes that in its final rule, the information that must be provided electronically is limited to the information that exists electronically--or is accessible from certified electronic health record (EHR) technology--and is maintained by or on behalf of the eligible provider or hospital. This information must be passed to the patient within three business days when requested, CMS said.

All EHR technology, CMS said, is certified to provide at minimum the following four elements: a problem list, diagnostic test results, a medication list, and a medication allergy list. CMS said it is encouraging all providers, though, to continue to work with patients to provide information patients may request above and beyond these four elements.

In a another question, CMS clarifies when a patient has been "seen by" an eligible provider--for purposes of measuring Meaningful Use. This includes cases where the service does not result in an actual interaction with the patient.

A patient seen using telemedicine would count as a physical interaction, CMS said. However, in instances where a provider does not meet face-to-face with a patient--but performs a consultative service for that individual--that provider can choose whether to include the patient in the MU denominator as "seen." This is provided provided the "choice is consistent for the entire EHR reporting period and for all relevant meaningful use measures."

As an example, CMS notes that a cardiologist may choose to exclude patients for whom they deliver a one-time reading of an EKG they receive from another provider. However, it can include more involved consultative services--as long as the policy is followed consistently.

For more information:
- check out the CMS Frequently Asked Questions section
- view the Government Health IT article

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