The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) intends to engage in rulemaking this spring to help ensure providers continue to meet meaningful use requirements.
In response to input from health care providers and other stakeholders, CMS is considering the following changes to the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs:

  1. Shortening the 2015 reporting period to 90 days to address provider concerns about their ability to fully deploy 2014 Edition software
  2. Realigning hospital reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other quality programs
  3. Modifying other aspects of the programs to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burden

These proposed changes reflect the Department of Health and Human Services’ commitment to creating a health information technology infrastructure that:

  • Elevates patient-centered care
  • Improves health outcomes
  • Supports the providers who care for patients

While CMS intends to pursue these changes through rulemaking, they will not be included in the pending Stage 3 proposed rule. CMS intends to limit the scope of the pending proposed rule to Stage 3 and meaningful use in 2017 and beyond.
To read Dr. Conway’s blog on this announcement, go to: For more information about the EHR Incentive Programs, please visit


News Updates | July 31, 2014

Deadline for ICD-10 allows health care industry ample time to prepare for change

Deadline set for October 1, 2015

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a rule today finalizing Oct. 1, 2015 as the new compliance date for health care providers, health plans, and health care clearinghouses to transition to ICD-10, the tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases. This deadline allows providers, insurance companies and others in the health care industry time to ramp up their operations to ensure their systems and business processes are ready to go on Oct. 1, 2015.

For more information on the rule, view the press release.

ICD-10 Compliance


ICD-10 Compliance Date

On April 1, 2014 the Protecting Access to medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA)(Pub. L. No. 113-93) was enacted, which said that the Secretary may not adopt ICD-10 prior to October 1, 2015.  Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expects to release an interim final rule in the near future that will include a new compliance date that would require the use of ICD-10 beginning October 1, 2015.

July ICD-10 End-to-End Testing Canceled: Additional Testing Planned for 2015

CMS planned to conduct ICD-10 testing during the week of July 21 through 25, 2014, to give a sample group of providers the opportunity to participate in end-to-end testing with Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) and the Common Electronic Data Interchange (CEDI) contractor. The July testing has been canceled due to the ICD-10 implementation delay. Additional opportunities for end-to-end testing will be available in 2015.

May 6, 2014

Capitola Mall, Capitola CA

Dominican nurses and therapy staff will be educating the public about stroke prevention and risk on National Stroke Alert Day, May 6th.  Above Bar CPR staff, Central Fire Department, and AMR will also be present to provide stroke and life saving information.  Staff will check blood pressures and provide basic screening for stroke risk factors.

No appointment is necessary. We will be located outside the Capitola Mall, at the food court entrance off of Clares St.

Surprising facts about stroke (from the American Stroke Association):
• 4th leading cause of death
• 2 million brain cells die per second during a stroke.
• 1 stroke occurs every 40 seconds.

Road to 10: The Small Physician Practice’s Route to ICD-10

To get started and learn more about ICD-10, navigate through the links on the left side of the page. If you’re ready to start building an action plan, select the BUILD YOUR ACTION PLAN box (read more…).

Conservative estimate shows a potential savings of $1.3 million to Western New York’s health system

Executive Summary

HEALTHeLINK works with health care providers throughout Western New York to help enhance patient outcomes and control costs through the utilization of a health information exchange (HIE). Through the HIE, providers can see what tests have been performed on their patients. This particular function of the HIE can help providers avoid ordering what may be potentially unnecessary duplicative tests, saving money and improving patient safety if the required test involves exposure to radiation (read more…)

National Association for Trusted Exchange on Fast Track to Facilitate Electronic Clinical Data Exchange Between Patients and Providers.  The project, underway in California, Alaska and Oregon, is working to overcome physicians’ concern that so-called “patient mediated exchange” may not be complete or accurate. It is aimed at ensuring that providers can successfully transfer medical data into a patient-controlled PHR, and that other physicians on the patient’s care team can trust information sent to them from the patient’s PHR.  “In just over 30 days we brought together a broad group of stakeholders and rapidly developed a baseline approach that balances easy consumer access to data with the privacy and security safeguards necessary for trusted exchange,” Seib said. “In the next phase, we want to engage additional PHR vendors and health care and health information exchange organizations to continue working on the baseline and update it with lessons learned.”  20131211 – NATE PHR Milestone Press Release

Patient Engagement Presentation

At first read, the CMS/ONC announcement that Stage 2 of EHR meaningful use will be extended by a year appears to give providers more time to get ready for their first reporting period. But that is not the case.

CMS confirmed that the extension does not mean a delay in the start date for Stage 2, eligible professionals have to start collecting data by October 2014 for the January 2015 reporting period. Not only are reporting periods unchanged for providers starting Stage 2 in 2014, but also for providers starting Stage 1 in 2014 to avoid reduced Medicare payments in 2015.

That means providers will report on Stage 2 for three years, but not necessarily get incentive payments for three years. There are scenarios depending on when a provider began meaningful use that the provider could receive three payments in Stage 2, but the present number of possible payments throughout the program has not change. So, if a provider takes off 2014 and doesn’t start meaningful use until 2015, they will lose a year of incentive payments.

The extension of Stage 2 was not done to make the second stage easier to comply with, but to give more time to develop and comply with Stage 3. Bill Beighe of PMG will continue to communicate with CMS and members of Congress on the need to shift reporting periods so providers aren’t starting Stage 2 at the same time they are trying to finish ICD-10 work. PMG joins the AAFP, CHIME and many organizations that have sent this message to Congress, the ONC and CMS. There is general concern that if providers have to choose between being ready for ICD-10 or meaningful use, they will pick ICD-10 because its impact on revenue is so much greater.

Health Information Exchange Saves $1 Million in Emergency Care Costs for Medicare.  New research shows that having access to data from a health information exchange (HIE) improved the quality of emergency care and saved more than $1 million in patient charges, or nearly $2,000 per patient, according to a study presented today in Seattle at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange was one of the three Awardees for the Personal Health Records Demonstration Project.  The demonstration will help establish policies and procedures for identifying use cases and the specific conditions for trusted exchange that includes PHRs.  Read more…


NEW! Updated document for clean patient registration is now available. The role of the registrar or receptionist is key to acquiring and populating the patient demographic information precisely. Every healthcare worker should be vigilant that patient identities are accurate. Download the revised patient registration resource document and implement in your practices today! Patient Demographic Integrity ver4

Omnibus HIPAA 2013


The “HIPAA 2013 Omnibus Final Rule” is 500+ pages and contains a significant amount of discussion related to the changed definition of Business Associate.  HHS goes into great detail of who is, and who is not, considered a Business Associate.  It is essential that you identify your business relations in your organization and ensure you have current appropriate agreements in place.

HIPAA_Omnibus_2013_Final (.ppt)
HIPAA 2013 Compliance Checklist (.doc) 
SCHIE Business Associate Agreement 2013 Omnibus Compliant (.pdf)
Notice of Privacy Practices & Acknowledgement Omnibus (English)(.doc)
Notice of Privacy Practices & Acknowledgement Omnibus (Spanish)(.doc)

Bill Beighe, CIO, Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange sat down with HITC’s Rob Waters to discuss the delivery of HIT/HIE services to a diverse group of stakeholders in rural Santa Cruz County helping them participate in new care delivery models and also how the California Association of HIEs (CAHIE), a group of as many as 30 HIEs are collaborating on Statewide health information exchange efforts. Bill has been the CIO with Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange since 1998. – Read more…

The final Omnibus Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Rule [1] published in the Federal Register on January 25, 2013 at 78 Fed. Reg. 5566 (Omnibus Rule) had significant changes and impacts for covered entities and their business associates.  By September 23, 2013, Covered Entities and Business Associates (including BA Subcontractors) have to meet all obligations imposed on them under the 2013 amendments.

The New HIPAA Business Associate Agreement is now available for download -SCHIE Business Associate Agreement 2013 Omnibus Compliant (pdf)

Health care providers everywhere rely on faxes, mail, un-secure e-mail, courier and phone to communicate. While these methods are great for non-sensitive information they have significant risks when used to send protected health information.

Recent changes in HIPAA and general risks associated with data leakage are driving the need for protection of content that is sent through email and various collaboration tools. DIRECT messaging mitigates these risks by providing a way for health care providers to share information electronically in a secure HIPAA compliant way, even if you do not have an Electronic Health Record (EHR).

Securing content is a critical best practice to prevent data leaks and unauthorized access to sensitive information.

CMS final rule for Stage 2 requirements and other changes to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.  Most practices and clinics in Santa Cruz will need to support the Stage 2 requirements by October 1, 2014.  Stage 2 focus is on Advanced Clinical Processes.
Preparing for Meaningful Use Stage 2 in Santa Cruz (pdf)

Learn what you must report in 2013 to avoid penalties in the coming 2 years.

Provides a general overview on the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) payment adjustment program, including eligibility, how to avoid future payment adjustments, key points and tips for successful participation.  This presentation also provides a list of resources and who to contact for help.
PQRS Webinar Presentation (ppt)

2013 Standards of Excellence Rankings Released

 SANTA CRUZ, CA – May 21 The California Association of Physician Groups (CAPG) has announced it has designated Physicians Medical Group (PMG) as one of the highest performing medical groups in California according to their 2013 Standards of Excellence (SOE) survey. PMG was recognized as an ‘elite’ medical group among the 86 participating medical groups represented in this survey. The survey measured care management practices, health information technology, accountability and transparency, and patient-centered care.

 PMG physicians consistently strive to provide high quality, patient-centered care.” says Marvin Labrie, Chief Executive Officer Physicians Medical Group, “This entire organization is built around the patient: from health information technology which allows providers throughout the region to exchange patient health information to preventive care measures coordinated by primary care and specialty physicians. We are proud of what we have accomplished and will continue to seek new opportunities to improve.”…Press Relaease CAPG May 2013

Consent Manager-PMG MU Connecting Health Care Incentive Program

April 1, 2013

Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange understand the challenges of coordinating care across acute and ambulatory settings, reducing workflow burdens from physicians and engaging patients.  Our proven Health Information Exchange (HIE) solutions can help you achieve your care coordination and physician alignment goals.  This project will help the State determine best practices and which model to […]

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