Physician Practice

Tipsheet clarifies meaningful use broadband exceptions

Physician Practice Insider, February 23, 2016

CMS released a tipsheet clarifying meaningful use hardship exemptions for participating EPs with limited broadband in their region. This exemption allows EPs in counties where 50% or more of the households have less than 4 Mbps of broadband service to file for a meaningful use hardship exception.

Two meaningful use objectives require broadband access, Objective 8—Patient Electronic Access and Objective 9—Secure Messaging. Objective 9 applies only to EPs. Measure 2 of Objective 8 requires EPs to report that at least one patient viewed, downloaded, or sent his or her health information to a third party during the 2015 EHR reporting period. Objective 9 requires EPs to use secure electronic messaging to communicate health information to a patient.

CMS uses the latest broadband availability information from the FCC to determine if an EP lives in an eligible county. Six counties are currently listed as qualifying for the broadband access exclusion. They are:

  • Aleutians East Borough, Alaska
  • Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska
  • Yakutat City and Borough, Alaska
  • Camas County, Idaho
  • Loving County, Texas
  • Daggett County, Utah

EPs can also analyze their county’s broadband availability with the FCC’s National Broadband Map.

The 2015 EHR Incentive Program reporting period ended December 31, 2015. Participating EPs must attest to all meaningful use measures during a continuous 90-day period between October 1, 2014, and December 31, 2015. The deadline for reporting 2015 data is March 11.

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