In a move that the AAMA is hailing as a "victory", the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued a final rule on Stage 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. The CMS decided that credentialed medical assistants, including CMAs, will be allowed to enter medication orders into the computerized provider order entry (CPOE) system.
You had to be a licensed health care professional to do this work in the past - medical assistants, even certified ones, are not classed as licensed health care professionals.
The CMS looked at a range of options including allowing "anyone, including those commonly referred to as scribes" or "any licensed, certified, or appropriately credentialed health care professional" to enter orders, but in the end they decided to adopt a more limited description of who could enter orders, including credentialed medical assistants.
This decision effects certified Medical Assistants in the following ways:
- Recognized in federal law. By specifically mentioning credentialed medical assistants - as opposed to all medical assistants - in the high-profile EHR Incentive Program, the CMS provides a powerful argument against licensure as the only method of ensuring competence in health care professionals.
- Distinguished from "credentialed healthcare professionals." The switch from "credentialed healthcare professionals" - which the CMS deemed overly broad and generic - to "credentialed medical assistants" helps do away with the inaccurate view of medical assistants as general outpatient health care workers with no specific administrative or clinical training.
- Able to act on clinical support interventions. In describing the knowledge and competence required to enter orders into the CPOE system, the CMS presents a case for why credentialed medical assistants are the only medical assistants who can be trusted to execute correct and accurate entry.
- Distinguished from "in-house" medical assistants. The CMS explicitly states that medical assisting credentials "would have to be obtained from an organization other than the employing organization." This adds weight to the importance of the CMA (AAMA) credential as a standard for well-trained medical assistants.
All CMAs (AAMA) must have current status to use the credential, including for qualifying to enter orders for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.
Employers can verify employees' CMA (AAMA) certification status by visiting the AAMA website or by calling them on 800-228-2262.
For more information on the AAMA and other Medical Assisting organizations see: