7 Questions & Misconceptions about the CMS 2014 CEHRT Flexibility Rule

With the 2014 attestation deadline for Eligible Providers (EPs) quickly drawing near (February 28th, 2015), many questions and misconceptions are shared amongst the providers and organizations attesting for 2014 meaningful use; specifically regarding the flexibility rule and how it affects their attestation.

So what does this all mean? The CMS 2014 Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT) Flexibility Rule was created to allow providers to meet either Meaningful Use Stage 1 or 2 with 2011 and/or 2014 Edition certified EHRs. Its creation was intended to assist providers who have been “unable to fully implement 2014 CEHRT” for the 2014 reporting period. This rule creates several options for attestation, depending on the CEHRT edition used in the reporting period.

It is important to consult your vendor if you are considering choosing one of the options that require 2011 Edition CEHRT, as this may no longer be an available option once you have started your 2014 CEHRT implementation. Below we tackle the most common and heaviest hitters when it comes to the questions people are asking.

7 Questions & Misconceptions about the CMS 2014 CEHRT Flexibility Rule

1. What “delays in 2014 CEHRT implementation” qualify as acceptable for flexibility rule use?

The delay must be related to issues relating to software development, certification, implementation, testing, or the release of the product from the vendor. Examples that do not count as delays in availability include staffing issues, provider delays, financial issues or difficulties meeting the measures.

2. What if you do not qualify for the flexibility rule? Are there any other options?

Yes! Providers who are unable to meet the summary of care objective (core objective 15), due to their referring providers’ delays related to 2014 edition CEHRT availability, are able to fall back to 2014 Stage 1 objectives and measures. It is important to retain documentation demonstrating both that the EP was unable to attest due to inability to electronically transmit the summary of care to referring providers.

3. When do you have to decide if you will take advantage of the flexibility rule?

Unlike Hardship Extensions, there are no applications required for the flexibility rule. Providers attesting have until the last day of attestation to decide whether or not to take advantage of the flexibility rule. When attesting, providers indicate the flexibility option they have chosen to take advantage of.

4. Will taking advantage of the flexibility negatively impact eligible professionals?

No. Per the CMS update in late August, Stage 2 has been extended for everyone until 2016. Opting to take advantage of the flexibility rule for 2014 will not negatively impact the EP for future reporting periods.

5. How will taking advantage of the flexibility rule impact an EP’s 2015 Reporting Period?

All EPs attesting in 2015 will be required to report for the entire calendar year, regardless of whether they have taken advantage of the flexibility rule. The only exception to this is Stage 1, Year 1 providers.

6. Will there be more audits for EPs opting to take advantage of the flexibility rule?

According to CMS, audits are random and non-targeted in regards to the flexibility rule.

7. What will an EP need to do to prove they are eligible for the flexibility rule?

Documentation. Documentation. Documentation. CMS did not specify what would be accepted as evidence for flexibility rule eligibility, so over-documentation is critical. Vendor documentation including any tickets opened in regards to your 2014 CEHRT implementation and MU reporting tools, any bugs or issues with the CEHRT, training delays, etc.