The EHR Incentive Program: Dates and Deadlines in 2014

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The rules are changing in 2014. Find out when to begin your reporting period, the key differences between Stage 1 and Stage 2 reporting requirements, and how to avoid Medicare penalties in the years ahead.

Aside from the measures, exclusions, thresholds, and new processes that the EHR Incentive program has brought, 2014 carries along with it a drastic change in the way providers participate in this challenging, yet lucrative program.

Amazingly enough, in 2014 this program is celebrating its fourth year since its introduction. Those earliest on the bandwagon began their first reporting period in 2011, which means that some eligible providers are advancing into their fourth year of meaningful use, having already claimed up to $38,000 in incentives.

This year offers one last chance for those who have experienced some trepidation at the idea of dipping their toes into the murky waters of meaningful use. It’s the last year in which participating providers can qualify for incentives, and still gives providers a chance to garner up to $24,000 in reimbursements over the next three years.

In terms of what is changing in the program this year, first and foremost Stage 2 bumps everyone back down to a 90-day reporting period, regardless of whether this is your first or subsequent year of participation. But the practice of meaningful use for those 90 days is not the same for all providers. There are a few key distinctions between existing meaningful users and those newly entering the program.

First year participating providers

If this is your first year in the program, you may choose any 90 day period this year as your reporting period. But…there is a catch. Your reporting period must occur within the first 9 months of the year in order to avoid the 1% Medicare reimbursement penalty in 2015. Why is this? Medicare won’t have the time to determine who is—and is not—meaningfully using a certified EHR by the time penalties are scheduled to kick in at the start of 2015. So keep this in mind when deciding which 90 days to select for your reporting period.

We also suggest that you do not choose dates that require you to attest on or near this October 1 deadline. CMS will likely be overburdened by providers trying to complete their attestation in order to avoid penalties, and it’s safe to assume that expecting the CMS attestation site to successfully handle such a bolus of input is a bit of a gamble.

Early Demonstrators

If this is not your first year of participation in the program, you must choose a reporting period that coincides with a calendar year quarter: Jan 1–March 31, Apr 1-June 30, July 1-Sept 30, or Oct 1–Dec 31.

If you first demonstrated meaningful use in 2011, you will have met three consecutive years of meaningful use under the Stage 1 criteria before advancing to Stage 2. If you first demonstrated meaningful use in 2012 or 2013, you will meet two years of meaningful use under Stage 1 criteria before advancing to the Stage 2 criteria in your third year of participation.

Not only does 2014 bring with it meaningful use changes, but all EHR software that was certified to meet meaningful use standards in 2011 also becomes obsolete. Every EHR vendor must re-certify to achieve 2014 certification in order to support new requirements of both Stage 1 and Stage 2 criteria. Ask your technology vendor what their plans are for 2014 certification to ensure your practice will have the support it needs to participate in the EHR incentive program this year.

To put our providers in position to take full advantage of the EHR Incentive program, ChiroTouch offers technologically advanced and compliant software along with a robust support and training program for our meaningful users. Contact ChiroTouch to learn more about how we can keep your practice running with a comprehensive approach to the EHR Incentive Program, billing, compliance, and industry standards.