CMS introduces final rule, delays meaningful use stage 3 to 2017

Many benefits of using electronic health records relate to patient quality of care and the collection of more information. To add further incentives, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pays health care providers of any size if they can attest to meaningful use. While stage 1 of meaningful use is completed, stage 2 is currently underway.

At the end of last week, the CMS, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that a new ruling changes the meaningful use stage timeline and the definition of certified EHR technology in an effort that allows variety in the use of CEHRT for reporting in 2014.

Additionally, the new final rule revised the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs to include a different measure for stage 2 meaningful use objective that allows hospitals to provide electronic laboratory results to ambulatory providers.

The new decision delays meaningful use stage 3 until 2017, and providers have until the end of this year to meet stage 2 requirements with 2011 standards, at which point only EHRs certified with 2014 standards will be applicable to the incentives.

Not all organizations agree and many providers struggle
Forbes magazine reported that the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, an organization that represents hospital chief information officers, urged the CMS to use this final rule to cut the 2015 reporting period down from the whole year to only 90 days, similar to the guidelines for 2014. Russell Branzell, president and chief executive officer at CHIME, said that the decision will ensure a continued struggle to meet meaningful use objects into 2015.

According to the CMS data, by June 2014, only 106 unique, Medicare-eligible professionals have attested to meaningful use stage 2, and the CMS paid $689,920 in incentives. The majority of the providers are doctors of medicine or osteopathy and eight are chiropractors. For meaningful use stage 1, the CMS gave almost $6.4 billion to 264,538 physicians. Furthermore, only four hospitals have attested to stage 2 of meaningful use as of the same date.

Forbes magazine reported that providers must meet meaningful use standards by 2015 or they will see Medicare payment reductions. Providers in Medicare Part A will follow the federal fiscal year, while those in Part B follow the calendar year.