Meaningful Use rule change offers more flexibility to physicians, EHR vendors

May 21, 2014

Physicians and hospitals will have more time to attest to Meaningful Use Stage 2 and Stage 3 and more flexibility about the electronic health record systems they use, under a new proposal from CMS and ONC.

 

Physicians and hospitals will have more time to attest to Meaningful Use Stage 2 (MU2) and Stage 3 (MU3) and more flexibility about the electronic health record (EHR) systems they use, under a new proposal from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Under the proposed rule, eligible providers will be able to use 2011-certified EHR technology (CEHRT) or a combination of 2011- and 2014-CEHRT for the 2014 reporting period. They will have until 2016 to attest to MU2, and they can begin attesting to MU3 in 2017.

However, 2014-certified systems will be required for the 2015 reporting period.

“We have seen tremendous participation in the EHR incentive programs since they began,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a written statement. “By extending Stage 2, we are being receptive to stakeholder feedback to ensure providers can continue to meet meaningful use and keep momentum moving forward.”

As of January 1, 2014, only 50 eligible professionals had attested to MU2, and only four facilities have attested to MU2, since Oct. 1, 2013, according to CMS data.

EHR vendors have struggled to obtain 2014 certification, which has left providers who use those systems unable to transition to MU2.

“Increasing the adoption of EHRs is key to improving the nation’s health care system and the steps we are taking today will give new options to those who, through no fault of their own, have been unable to get the new 2014 Edition technology, including those at high risk, such as smaller providers and rural hospitals,” said Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, national coordinator for health information technology, in a written statement.

Earlier this month, the American Medical Association (AMA) sent a letter to Tavenner and DeSalvo that called for major reforms to the MU incentive program. The AMA argued that stiff financial penalties for failing to meet the requirements would discourage physician participation. It also recommended eliminating any requirement that is outside of a physician’s control, such as patients accessing the EHR’s patient portal.