Quarterly News from your WTxHITREC

In This Issue
CMS Proposal - CEHRT Revision
Executive Director earns Award
Patient Portals and Patient Engagement Webinar - Register Today!
Medicaid Physician Specialist Program
Avoiding Medicare Payment Adjustments
Choosing a Patient Portal
Keep Calm and ICD-10 On
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Issue: 7
Enjoy your Quarterly News from your West Texas Health IT Regional Extension Center (WTxHITREC) and please feel free to forward this email to any of your colleagues or interested parties.
CMS proposes Major CEHRT Revision for 2014 MU

Eligible professionals and hospitals will have greater flexibility in demonstrating meaningful use in the 2014 reporting year based on a rule PROPOSED and published by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Read More 


If you would like to submit comments, please view the proposal for more information and how to submit comments.  You also have the option of submitting comments electronically through http://www.regulations.gov.

WTxHITREC Executive Director earns 2014 TTUHSC Distinguished Staff Award!

Congratulations to Travis Hanson, JD, MS, WTxHITREC Executive Director for earning the 2014 Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Chancellor's Colonel Rowan Award for Execution!


Mr. Hanson was presented with his award at the TTUHSC 2014 Distinguished Staff Awards and Years of Service Ceremony on May 29, 2014. 

Questions about Patient Portals? Register today for a FREE educational webinar!

Educational webinar session provided by the WTxHITREC to discuss patient portal benefits, portal options, upcoming deadlines, and meaningful use objectives.



Friday June 20th, 12:15pm-1:00pm



Patient Portals and Patient Engagement



Sharon Rose, RN, MAM, BSOE, CHTS - CP

Regional Coordinator, WTxHITREC




Now Enrolling! Medicaid Physician Specialist Program
The Medicaid Physician Specialist Program is federally funded through the Texas Health & Human Services Commission.  With this funding, all costs are covered for eligible physicians and NO FEES will be associated with this program.


Contact the WTxHITREC today at 806-743-7960 to determine your eligibility!

How to Avoid Medicare Payment Adjustments in 2015


If you have not attested for Meaningful Use, payment adjustments for Medicare will start January 2015 with payment decreased by 1% a year up to 5% over the next 5 years.


You may avoid payment adjustments if any of the following apply:


      -  You attested to Meaningful Use in 2013.

      -  If you did not attest in 2013, or attesting for the first time, you  

must meet Meaningful Use by October 1, 2014.  In other words, you must meet Meaningful Use and attest by the third quarter in 2014.

       -  You are a hospital-based provider.

       -  You qualify for a hardship exception.


You may qualify for a hardship exception if:


       -  You are located in an area without sufficient internet access or  

 other insurmountable infrastructure barriers.

       -  You are new to the practice and have not had time to meet  

 Meaningful Use.  In this case, users may apply for a two-year     

 limited exception to the payment adjustment rules.

       -  There is a natural disaster or other unforeseen circumstances.

       -  There are issues with your EHR vendor such as delayed  

           upgrade to a 2014-compliant certified EHR that is required to  

           meet Meaningful Use in 2014.


The hardship exception must be filed by July 1, 2014.  For the Hardship Exception Application, follow the following link or contact the WTxHITREC.




Submitted by 

Becky Jones, MSN, RN-BC, CPHQ, CHTS-PW  

WTxHITREC Regional Coordinator   

Choosing a Patient Portal

Patient portals produce a secure method of providing communication between a health care provider and patient.  Through a patient portal, patients are able to view their electronic health record (EHR), reference their own information at any time, and provide this information for transition of care.  Furthermore, portals ease up the work flow for office staff and providers allowing for work load and call volume to decrease.  This decrease in work load and call volume can increase patient volume allowing for a more optimal operation.


As of 2014 calendar or fiscal year, all eligible providers and hospitals must have a 2014 certified EHR system with an active patient portal prior to attestation; this will continue into stage 2 meaningful use (MU) as well.  Due to some of the cost associated with patient portals, providers have expressed interest in alternatives to patient portals outside of their current EHR vendor.  Providers will need to inquire with their current EHR vendor/contract agreement, but many times there are options available to select other portals based on an organization's need.  There are many options available, but the key is to confirm the portal has been certified for stage 2 MU.


A popular trend in the software world has been to offer "open source" software.  Open source software is free software mostly provided and funded through donations.  With open source software, it will be important to check periodically for new updates and confirm the software is compatible with an existing EHR.

Click here to read more 


Submitted by

Jeremy Castillo

WTxHITREC Regional Coordinator

Keep Calm and ICD-10 On

With the required ICD-10 implementation now being delayed until October 1, 2015, you and your practice have more time for preparation.  Take advantage of this time and stay the course of your timeline in order to be fully prepared for the change.   Continued preparation is the key to making a smooth transition to ICD-10.


Coding and billing staff should still be attending trainings that are held in and around their areas to stay informed of what is expected of them when the time comes.  They should also continue improving their current coding and billing strategies in order to become more efficient as this will only help them code ICD-10 more effectively.  The billing staff should also continue to collect any backlog of claims, this way they will not have to go back and forth as much between ICD-9 and ICD-10 based on the date of service of the claim. 


Project leads and administrators need to constantly stay in touch with their electronic health record vendors, as well as any third part vendor used in their practices, to know their timelines and when to begin testing.  Continuous contact with these vendors and other entities will ensure they are diligently working toward the common goal and keeping their clients in the loop of any development and possible setbacks based on the implementation deadlines.  Also, continue to work with providers to continue to improve their current clinical documentation to be more detail oriented in order to plan for the future; provider support is critical during this process. 


Stay true to the timeline you have developed and remain focused on your overall goal.  ICD-10 will soon be required and the more prepared your facility is, the better.  Your practice will benefit if you will keep calm...and ICD-10 on!


Submitted by 

Cappi Phillips

WTxHITREC Regional Coordinator   

Do you have any items you would like to know more about or see in the next newsletter?

If so, please contact the WTxHITREC with any newsletter additions, questions or service needs at 806-743-7960 or info@wtxhitrec.org



Carson Scott, MPA

Director Marketing, Outreach, Education & Communications
WTxHITREC - Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center