CMS pledges more flexibility for meaningful use requirements

Health care organizations have long been clamoring against the burden that meaningful use attestation has placed on their workflows. However, with recent comments from officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that promise more leeway for providers caught between institutional hardships, the anxiety of several high-profile health care organizations over the initiative's overall effectiveness for small practice productivity and patient care outcomes may be overwrought.

CMS will work with, not against physicians
Speaking at the 2014 Health Information and Management Systems Society conference in Orlando, Fla., EHRIntelligence the CMS made a strong statement against some of their own policies that appear to unnecessarily punish providers and practices that are making efforts in good faith to comply with meaningful use requirements, EHRIntelligence reported.

Elizabeth Holland, director of Health Information Technology Health Standards and Services at the CMS, ensured the health care industry that the agency has been listening to its concerns over meaningful use stage 2 requirements.

"We are looking at flexibility options," Holland told EHRIntelligence. "We're working very closely with our lawyers to see how much flexibility we have. We're really looking to see what we can possibly do."

Holland explained that the CMS is giving its best effort in revaluating its requirements due to the overwhelmingly positive response it has received from stage 1. She also assured physicians from small practices that the CMS would not intentionally bury them with work on stage 2 when electronic health record software without 2014 certification had not yet made it into their workplaces.

"At this point, stage 3 has been pushed out, but that's really from the practical point," Holland told EHRIntelligence. "People are still doing stage 2 certification and if we all of a sudden start pushing too hard on Stage 3, people are really going to be pushed."

An industry-wide conversation
Holland's remarks at the HIMSS conference have not been the only ones to contribute to the dialog between the CMS and concerned health care organizations. Modern Healthcare reported that at a forum held by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Robert Tagalicod, director of the Office of E-Health Standards and Services at the CMS, reiterated that his office has been listening to industry feedback and exploring possible options for more leniency.

While the CMS has not committed to any momentous changes regarding meaningful use requirements, concerned physicians should know that their criticisms have not fallen on deaf ears.