CMS releases proposed stage 3 MU ruling

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently published a list of potential rules and requirements for the upcoming stage 3 meaningful use regulations. Although there are eight proposed rules, the underlying goal of the new standards is to enhance health information exchange and improve patient health outcomes. The stage 3 rules also build off on the framework created for the past two meaningful use stages.

New proposed rules released
There are multiple themes that can be found in all three meaningful use requirements, such as the promotion of EHR interoperability. However, a new focus of the stage 3 rulings is increased flexibility for reporting requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs with an aim to simplify the process for eligible providers. 

According to the document released by the CMS, the rules are expected to be implemented within the next couple of years with a goal of combining all requirements to one stage for less confusion. 

"[Stage 3 meaningful use standards] would continue to encourage electronic submission of clinical quality measure data for all providers where feasible in 2017, propose to require the electronic submission of CQMs where feasible in 2018, and establish requirements to transition the program to a single stage for meaningful use,"  the CMS stated in the proposed rule. 

Each of the eight goals focuses on a different task, all with the aim to improve care quality on an international level.

Highlights from stage 3 MU rule
One of the rules found in the stage 3 meaningful use draft includes an increase in electronic prescribing to keep patient data safe and reduce the amount of false prescribing that occurs. In fact, the proposed regulations suggest that physicians send 80 percent of drug and treatment prescriptions electronically through certified EHR systems. It also advised that over 25 percent of hospital discharge medication orders be electronically prescribed.

Clinical decision support is proposed by the CMS, encouraging eligible providers to implement five clinical decision support interventions. The CMS also stressed the importance of using computerized provider order entry for everything from medication to laboratory and diagnostic imaging orders. 

Patients should have access to their health information. This is why stage 3 rules are going to focus on enhancing direct physician-patient communication channels for coordinating care. Eligible hospitals and providers should provide their patients with electronic access to download, view and share their health information within a day after it is available to the provider.

Reoccurring objectives
Protecting patient information has always been a priority among health care professionals. However, the new rules suggest multiple safeguards that were designed to provide stricter guidelines for keeping data safe. Stage 3 meaningful use also focuses on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, emphasizing the fact that adhering to privacy rules is not only important to complying with meaningful use standards, but HIPAA as well. This can be done through regular risk analysis and risk management procedures, which are offered as a support feature by high-quality EHR vendors.

Another reoccurring objective from past MU stages is patient engagement. Providers should work on improving communication between physicians and patients. Similarly, the improvement of clinical care decisions and coordination of care through better electronic exchange of health information among providers will eliminate the common communication issues experienced in the past.

One of the last initiatives listed on the draft concerns public health and clinical data registry reporting. The objective was built off of the requirements for stage 2 meaningful use regulations. However, the stage 3 ruling calls for more flexibility, innovations and enhancements to reporting procedures. It also recommends that providers focus more on the communication channels with their clinical data registries.