A critical government deadline for electronic payroll records is approaching fast, and officials at the nation’s largest provider advocacy group are urging their members to get in front of things before it becomes a crisis.

During its March skilled nursing facility open door forum, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated providers on rules that will require them to submit their payroll records digitally by July 1, 2016.

The government opened its new system to “voluntary” submissions last October, and advocates at the American Health Care Association (AHCA) have been urging their members to register and test things out since the beginning of the year. Now, with the deadline just a few months away, a new sense of urgency has crept into AHCA’s voice.

“This is a complex and time-consuming system,” Lyn Bentley, AHCA’s vice president for quality and regulatory affairs, tells Provider. “It is essential that all nursing centers register now, during the voluntary submission period, so they will be in compliance with the mandatory requirement.”

Regulators at CMS see the new e-filing system as a way to drag the profession into the modern era.

“CMS has long identified staffing as one of the vital components of a nursing home’s ability to provide quality care,” the agency says on its website. “Over time, CMS has utilized staffing data for myriad purposes in an effort to more accurately and effectively gauge its impact on quality of care in nursing homes.”

For providers, there’s little margin of error here. Eighteen months ago, claims that they were “gaming” the government’s system specific to staffing led to sweeping Five-Star Quality Rating changes just a year ago. Among other things, advocates are worried that data compromised by filing mistakes would open the sector to further criticisms surrounding self-reported data.