The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently proposed a new rule that will not only advance electronic health record (EHR) adoption, but provide some much needed relief for eligible professionals and eligible hospitals.
Components of the proposed rule include:
• More time for providers to focus on advanced use of EHR technology
• A decrease in the number of meaningful use objectives necessary to improve advanced use of EHRs
• Edits made to Stage 2 meaningful use requirements relating to patient engagement
• Removal of redundant measures and those that are now widely adopted
• A readjustment of the reporting period starting in 2015 that will allow hospitals to participate in the calendar year
In regard to the reporting period, CMS has proposed the following for the next three years:
• 2015- all eligible providers would be allowed to attest for any 90-day period within the calendar year regardless of previous participation and all eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals would be allowed to attest for any 90-day period between Oct. 1, 2014-Dec. 31, 2014, regardless of previous participation
• 2016- all eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals who are attesting for the first time would be allowed to attest for any 90-day period within the calendar year, while returning participants would use a full calendar year
• 2015-2016- new meaningful use participants would be allowed to attest for any 90-day period within the calendar year
• 2017- all providers, regardless of previous participation, would use a full calendar year reporting period and all Medicaid eligible professionals and hospitals attesting for the first time would be exempt from the full calendar year reporting period
While the proposal has been designed to increase EHR adoption and ease the stress that comes with meaningful use requirements, these changes come with their own set of challenges. CMS has created a 60-day window in which they will be accepting public feedback on the proposal. A draft of the final rule could be released as early as June.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) has praised the rule, agreeing that it will provide much needed relief for those dealing with meaningful use regulations. However, the AHA has also expressed concern. Including so many program changes at such a late date may cause confusion and become an excessive burden for hospitals that are already on top of the features proposed in the Stage 3 rule. Only time will tell how effective this new rule is going to be.
Author: Lauren Daniels