Massachusetts board finalizes EHR proficiency requirements

The Massachusetts Board of Registration of Medicine has finalized regulations that outline how physicians must demonstrate that they're adept at using electronic health records as a condition of maintaining their medical licenses.

The regulations, promulgated Jan. 2, 2015, require physicians to demonstrate EHR proficiency in any of the following ways:

  • Participation in a Stage 1 Meaningful Use program as an eligible healthcare professional;
  • Employment with, credentialed to provide patient care at, or in a contractual agreement with an eligible hospital or critical access hospital with a CMS-certified Stage 1 Meaningful Use program;
  • Participation as either a participant or an authorized user in the Massachusetts Health Information Highway;
  • Completion of three hours of a Category 1 EHR-related course that discusses, at a minimum, the core and menu objectives and the clinical quality measures for Stage 1 Meaningful Use  

Physicians need not demonstrate EHR proficiency if they fall into any of the following categories:

  • An applicant who will not be engaged in the practice of medicine;
  • An applicant for an Administrative License;
  • An applicant for a Volunteer License;
  • An applicant on active duty as a member of the National Guard or of a uniformed service called into service during a national emergency or crisis; or
  • An applicant for an Emergency Restricted License

Physicians renewing their licenses can obtain a 90-day waiver from the requirement due to undue hardship. If a physician has already demonstrated proficiency, he or she is exempt from doing so again when renewing his or her license.

In addition, the board issued an interim policy on Dec. 17, 2014, that grants applicants for initial full licenses, who file their license applications on Jan. 1 through March 31, an automatic administrative waiver of the EHR proficiency licensing requirement. Full licensees who renew or apply to revive a lapsed license on Jan. 1 through March 31 shall also be granted an automatic waiver of the EHR proficiency licensing requirement. These waivers are a one-time only occurrence.

The Massachusetts law requiring EHR proficiency was enacted in 2012 and was originally harsher than it is now. While other states have attempted to regulate EHR use, most of those were unsuccessful measures that would have barred the imposition of Meaningful Use penalties or disbanded the state health information exchange.

To learn more:
- check out the regulations
- read the interim policy