Meaningful Use Tips for Dentists

Widespread adoption of the secure exchange of digital patient health records in medicine are likely to heighten patients’ expectations that these technologies will be used by their dentists. New dental school graduates are trained in the use of EHRs and may expect to use one in their daily practice. HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification requirements, as well as applicable state laws, are also requiring dentists who wish to exchange digital images with other practitioners for referral purposes to do so in a secure manner, requiring adoption of new tools, methodologies and safeguards.

Meeting Meaningful Use as a Dentist

The Promoting Interoperability (PI) Program does not require a provider to apply for subsequent Meaningful Use (MU) incentive payments for years two through six. Providers are permitted to skip years without being penalized. CMS recently published a final rule that changed how Eligible Professionals (EPs) attest to MU (Modified Stage 2). This rule change allow many providers to complete six years of attestation. The first year is AIU, which stands for adoption, implementation or upgrading of 2014 ONC certified software. CMS has finalized the 90-day EHR reporting period for 2016 and 2017. The EHR reporting period will be any continuous 90-day period between January 1st and December 31st in CY 2016 and CY 2017.

Handling Exclusions for Meaningful Use

Many dentists assume that they cannot meet MU since many of the MU measures do not reflect the clinical work done in a dental practice. This is not true. Dentists, like many medical specialties, can interpret the MU measures to track what is or is not done in the normal scope of that specialty’s practice. If a certain measure does not apply to a dental practice, then the dentist should take the alternate exclusion for that particular measure.

2016 CMS Program Requirements

Objectives and Measures

  • All providers are required to attest to a single set of objectives and measures.
  • There are 10 objectives for EPs.
  • In 2016, all providers must attest to objectives and measures using EHR technology certified to the 2014 Edition. If it is available, providers may also attest using EHR technology certified to the 2015 Edition, or a combination of the two.

Changes to Specific Objectives

  • Secure Electronic Messaging (EPs only) – This objective has a phased approach for its measure’s threshold. For 2016, an EP must send a secure message using the electronic messaging function of the certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to at least one patient (or the patient-authorized representative) seen by the EP during the EHR reporting period, or must respond to a secure message sent by the patient (or the patient-authorized representative) during the EHR reporting period.
  • Public Health Reporting – In 2016, all EPs must meet two measures or claim alternate exclusions.

Alternate Exclusions

  • EPs that were scheduled to be in Stage 1 in 2016 may claim an alternate exclusion for Objective 3: Computerized Provider Order Entry, Measures 2 and 3 (lab and radiology orders), or choose the modified Stage 2 objective and measures.
  • Providers scheduled to be in Stage 1 and Stage 2 in 2016 may claim an alternate exclusion for the Public Health Reporting measure(s) that might require acquisition of additional technologies that they did not previously have or did not previously intend to include in their activities for meaningful use. EPs may claim an alternate exclusion for measure 2 (syndromic surveillance) and measure 3 (specialized registry reporting).
  • Review this fact sheet for an overview and more details about alternate exclusions for certain objectives and measures in 2016.
  • EPs who do not qualify to attest to MU with Medicaid for Program Year 2016 may attest to MU with Medicare in order to avoid payment adjustments in 2017 (if they are first-time MU attesters in Program Year 2016) or in 2018 (if they are returning MU attesters in Program Year 2016). 

  • The Alternate Medicare MU attestation will be available to Medicaid EPs who have registered for Program Year 2016 at the CMS Registration & Attestation UI (CMS RNA), and whose respective Medicaid states/territories have confirmed their registrations at the CMS RNA between January 3, 2017 and February 28, 2017. 

  • For additional information about the alternate Medicare attestation process, click on the links below.

For additional information about the 2016 program requirements, click here