5 important meaningful use dates

Electronic health record systems have the potential to significantly enhance the workflow of a practice while improving patient care. However, the adoption of health IT requires that providers start implementing meaningful use, which includes various deadlines to keep in mind for attestation and other processes. For example, reporting periods have specific deadlines that are important to remember in order to successfully meet meaningful use requirements.

Here are five important dates that providers and hospitals should be sure they do not forget about within the coming year. 

1. Dec. 31, 2014
Eligible providers and hospitals should mark this date on their calendars. This is when the meaningful use reporting period ends, so it is important to make sure you are prepared. It is also the final day of the physician quality reporting system reporting period. The quality of reporting data during the 2014 PQRS program is what determines whether or not a PQRS payment adjustment will be required in 2016, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The end of 2014 is significant because it is the last year that eligible providers and organizations can receive incentives for satisfactorily reporting data. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act states that although no incentives can be paid after 2014, providers that did start meaningful use in 2014 will still earn up to $24,000 in incentives if they demonstrate meaningful use for two years after they begin.

2. Jan. 1, 2015
All providers in their second year or later for meaningful use should take note that the first day of 2014 means the 2015 reporting period begins. The PQRS reporting period for 2015 also begins for both eligible providers and group practices. With a satisfactory reporting in 2015, a 2017 payment adjustment can be avoided. 

3. Feb. 28, 2015
The deadline for the 2014 reporting year for Medicare attestation ends on this date. It is also a chance for Medicare-eligible providers to prevent a fine in the future because if they successfully attest for a 2014 reporting period, they will prevent a 2016 penalty.

Meanwhile, it is also the last chance for providers to send 2014 PQRS data through certain reporting methods, like through an EHR system. This is also the final day that 2014 claims will be processed and counted toward this year's PQRS program participation. 

4. Oct. 3, 2015
In roughly a year, it will be the last day for providers to start their first year 90-day reporting period in 2015. According to Health IT Buzz, Medicaid providers and hospitals do not have a set calendar period for their first reporting period. It can occur during any continuous  three-month reporting period throughout the year. It is important that this date is not overlooked, as there are several drawbacks in waiting until 2016 to begin the first reporting period. 

5. Dec. 31, 2015
Although it may seem like a ways away, it is never too early to begin thinking about the deadline for the 2015 reporting period. Having the date in mind may also affect reporting quality. Attesting for any 2015 reporting period will prevent a 2017 penalty as well. 

The reporting period for 2015 also ends for all providers and practices eligible for the PQRS program. Just as with the meaningful use reporting period, providers and groups with satisfactory reporting can avoid a 2017 payment adjustment. 

Remembering these dates and being prepared for all meaningful use and PQRS deadlines is essential to successful health IT adoption and adhering to meaningful use requirements. Planning for them now will ensure that everything runs smoothly when these deadlines come.