Meaningful Use

Meaningful Use & Certified Medical Assistants: The Truth Regarding CPOE

On August 23,2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) ruled that only “credentialed medical assistants” – including CMA’s (AAMA) – would be allowed to enter medication, laboratory, and radiology orders into the computerized provider order entry system for meaningful use purposes for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program. Medical Assistants that are not certified cannot participate in entering orders into the EHR. for meaningful use purposes, but there is a way for them to become qualified with Assessment-Based Recognition in Order Entry.

What Rules Did CMS Establish for Credentialed MAs?

CMS established the following stipulations to allow orders entered by MAs to count in the numerator for the CPOE measure:

  • Credentialing for MAs must come from an organization other than the organization employing the MA.
  • A job title of “medical assistant” is not required but the staff member must perform similar services as a MA. 
  • Orders entered by credentialed MAs can count in the numerator for the CPOE objective if they can originate the order per state, local and professional guidelines.
  • Only orders entered by credentialed MAs can be counted in the numerator for the CPOE objective. Orders entered by non-credentialed MAs must be excluded from the numerator but are counted in the denominator for the eligible professional.

CMA Certification/Recertification Policies
The CMA (AAMA) must have current status to use the credential, including for qualifying to enter orders for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

Effective January 1, 2010, all newly certified and recertifying CMAs (AAMA) will be current for 60 months from the end of the calendar month of initial certification or most recent recertification. CMAs (AAMA) may choose one of two ways to recertify: By Examination or by Continuing Education.

Assessment-Based Recognition in Order Entry (ABR)
As of January 1, 2013, only "credentialed medical assistants" (in addition to licensed health professionals) have been permitted to enter medication, radiology, and laboratory orders into the electronic health record (EHR) and have such entry count toward meeting the meaningful use thresholds under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

Working medical assistants who have not graduated from a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assisting program are not eligible for the CMA (AAMA) Certification Examination, and therefore have had no way of meeting the CMS requirement through the AAMA in the past.

The ABR was created as a way for medical assistants to demonstrate their knowledge of electronic order entry, thus fulfilling the CMS requirement. The ABR in order entry is not a certification and not to be used as a credential. The ABR is an official recognition of the holder's qualifications to enter medication, laboratory, and radiology orders into the EHR under the CMS rule and is based on an assessment of the holder's knowledge and experience. Holders of this ABR in order entry can refer to themselves as having an assessment-based recognition in order entry that meets the CMS definition of "credentialed medical assistant," but are not permitted to use any suffixes or initials after their names in reference to this recognition program.

For more information on obtaining Assessment-Based Recognition in Order Entry, you can go to the AAMA.  A listing of courses available for ABR are here.  The registration form is located here.