No template—electronic or otherwise—anytime soon

Friday, June 15, 2012

WASHINGTON – Providers who were hopeful that the proposed electronic clinical template for power wheelchairs would be ready for this summer’s demonstration project were disappointed last week.

Melanie Combs-Dyer told providers during an Open Door Forum June 14 that working on the template with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, as well as electronic health record (EHR) vendors and other payers, will take time. The template will then need to be approved by standards committees, she said, before being incorporated into EHR software programs. 

"I would not expect it would be done in the next six months," said Dyer, deputy director of the Provider Compliance Group at CMS. 

CMS introduced the newest draft version of the template, which includes 59 new data elements, during the forum. The agency seeks comments and questions on the draft at

Providers took advantage of the question-and-answer period of the forum to voice frustration over the difficulty they face collecting the necessary documentation from physicians to meet Medicare's requirements.

Also discussed: Whether or not there will be a paper version of the template to help physicians complete their face-to-face examinations. Combs-Dyer reiterated that provider-generated forms with limited space and checkboxes would not meet Medicare's requirements, but physicians are welcome to incorporate the template into their chart notes.

When pressed for more details, Combs-Dyer stated that CMS plans to outline appropriate development and use of paper templates in the Program Integrity Manual. It plans to provide more information at the next forum.

"We're hopeful that we may be able to share with you draft language that would make that a little bit clearer," she said.

The next forum for the electronic clinical template is scheduled for 2-3 p.m. EST July 10.