CMS makes official modifications to meaningful use

CMS makes official modifications to meaningful use

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has officially modified meaningful use requirements. On Tuesday, the organization announced that the finalized changes for meaningful use will be effective from now until 2017, according to EHR Intelligence. In addition, a big announcement came for the mandated Stage 3 of the CMS' EHR Incentive Program as well. 

It has all come down to prioritizing the most important outcome of meaningful use and electronic health records. Aiming for a stronger focus on interoperability, patient engagement and a secure exchange of electronic health information, requirements have been simplified and more flexibility has been added, according to a Department of Health and Human Services press release. Providers will now have less of a burden when it comes to reporting. In addition to more time, providers will now have the ability to choose which measures of progress work best in their facility. Additionally, all are encouraged to cite any hardships that may come up.

What are the modifications?
EHR Intelligence reported that the number of objectives for meaningful use has been cut in half, down to less than 10. Providers have been granted a more adequate time period for implementing changes and, consequently, reporting data. All are now allowed a 90-day reporting period this year, as well as for 2016 and 2017. An update means that now more than 60 percent of measures are based on the exchange of health information, highlighting it as key. That is a rise from 33 percent previously. Finally, all providers are to report during the calendar year.

60day comment period
Following thousands of documented comments and concerns about obstacles and challenges faced with the new healthcare technologies, the CMS and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology went ahead to announce the change in regulations. In order to gather additional feedback to make informed decisions about the future of the EHR Incentive Programs, another comment period has been implemented. The public comment period will last for 60 days.

Stage 3 changes
Just last week, Sen. Lamar Alexander spoke out at his Senate HELP Committee's hearing on EHRs, the sixth of its kind in recent months. According to Healthcare IT News, he urged the government to slow down and take the time to proceed correctly and effectively. Pushing for the delay of Stage 3 final rules, he claimed that many hospitals and practices are still tied up in Stage 2.

"The whole purpose of this program is to benefit patients, so that they and their health care providers have quicker and better access to their health histories and their doctors and hospitals and pharmacists can provide them with better care," said Alexander. "There is no reason not to take time to do it right."

Originally slated to begin in 2017, Stage 3 requirements will be optional and those who choose to start at that time will have an extended reporting period. Stage 3 regulations now call for all providers to mandate by 2018.