The “Credentialed” Medical Assistant

IMPORTANT “MEANINGFUL USE” RULE

As most of you are now aware, there is a rule which practices must adhere to in order to remain in compliance with the Meaningful Use criteria of the EHR incentive program:

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has established that use of the CPOE (Computerized Physician Order Entry) within the Electronic Health Record should be limited to Eligible Professionals (EPs) and ‘credentialed medical assistants’.

What does this mean?

If you are 1) participating in the Medicare/Medicaid EHR incentive program and 2) your medical assistants actively participate in the entry of lab orders or prescriptions into the EMR – they must be “credentialed” or their activity will count against core measures!  

So how does CMS define “credential”?

CMS has thankfully provided much needed clarification with the release of Meaningful Use Stage 3 Final Rules on October 16, 2015. As stated on page 62838 of the Federal Register (here), they confirm:

 ‘A credentialed medical assistant may enter orders if they are credentialed to perform the duties of a medical assistant by a credentialing body other than the employer.’

…and further on page 62839:

‘We defer to the provider’s discretion to determine the appropriateness of the credentialing of staff to ensure that any staff entering orders have the clinical training and knowledge required to enter orders for CPOE.’

It’s also worth noting that CMS does not limit the “medical assistant” job description to only those who have received formal training in an accredited medical assistant trade school or college program. As described on 62838 of the Stage 3 Final Rules, CMS states:

‘…medical staff whose organizational or job title, or the title of their credential, is other than medical assistant may enter orders if these staff are credentialed to perform the equivalent duties of a credentialed medical assistant by a credentialing body other than their employer and perform such duties as part of their organizational or job title.’

Our course provides your staff with dermatology-specific training (including review of CPOE) and awards them with the credential of Certified Dermatology Tech® (CDT) upon completion!

Finally, it’s important to dispel an often-quoted myth regarding this rule – that being that “only credentials provided by NCCA-accredited medical assistant organizations are acceptable.” This is false. Also clarified within the Final Rules for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use, CMS confirms:

‘We believe there may be some confusion related to the term ‘‘Certified Medical Assistant’’ which is not used by CMS in our proposed rules or guidance with reference to the credentialed medical assistant or the credentialed medical staff equivalent of a medical assistant. We reiterate that CMS does not require any specific or general ‘‘certification’’ and note that credentialing may take many forms including, but not limited to, the appropriate degree from a health training and education program from which the medical staff matriculated. We note that a simple search online returns dozens of medical assistant training and credentialing programs as well as local industry associations for Medical Assistants offering resources on training…’

CMS recognizes that many medical assistants are trained on-the-job and it is not interfering with the right of physicians to designate who fills that role within each practice. Again, CMS only requires that your medical assistant staff are credentialed by an organization other than the employer.  Presumably for safety reasons, they are trying to avoid having those with absolutely no medical knowledge (i.e., inexperienced “scribes”) from playing an active role in the charting, lab order, and prescribing process.

So why not satisfy this CMS requirement while providing your staff with the dermatology-specific training they deserve?
Click here to enroll your staff today!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES REGARDING THIS REQUIREMENT

Meaningful Use Stage 3 Final Rule

CMSHIMSS.ORG