Can Orders Entered by Medical Assistants Count in Meeting Stage 2 Meaningful Use CPOE Requirements?

Yes but only for “credentialed” medical assistants (MAs). In Stage 2 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded not only the types of orders (medication, laboratory and radiology/imaging) but also the categories of healthcare professionals whose CPOE use could be counted towards Meaningful Use.

CMS heard the concerns of eligible professionals (EPs), many of whom practice in offices lacking licensed healthcare professionals.  In the Final Rule, CMS agreed that expansion to include credentialed MAs was warranted. 

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.

If you have access to Credentialing Office professionals responsible for credentialing MAs, they will be able to provide information about federal, state and local regulations and guidelines for MA staff authorization to originate orders.  

In addition, a local hospital or health system may have a MA credentialing process that they could apply to your MA staff.  This would meet the CMS requirement that the credential comes from a different organization.

You may also find it helpful to search the Web using the term “Medical Assistant Certification [your state]”.  For example, a Michigan search yields a link to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (DLRA) website, with expected job duties and other helpful information, including whether certification is required and the certifying bodies recognized by the State, such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the American Medical Technologists (AMT), each of which requires evidence of completion of an approved program of study or sufficient training and work experience followed by successful complete of a certification examination.

Keywords: 
Meaningful Use, Eligible Professionals, Stage 2, Credentials, Core Measures