Now that the dust has settled on the meaningful use Stage 3 rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), providers have had a chance to process what it will mean. The rule outlines the regulations and requirements the healthcare industry will have to deal with as it continues to adapt to the modern digital era. While it has its fair share of supporters, there are many providers who are wary of what challenges it may bring.
CMS has received praise from its supporters for its focus on efficiency and increased interoperability. The proposed rule would give participants more time to focus on advancing their use of EHR technology while at the same time providing some relief from the stress of meaningful use regulations.
Meanwhile, providers questioning Stage 3 have also been very vocal. Some providers consider the patient engagement requirements to be impractical and much better suited for a pay-for-performance model. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has also been criticized for their certification criteria, which opponents claim will cause confusion and inhibit provider progress.
The proposed rule requires that all eligible providers and hospitals attest to Stage 3 in 2018, regardless of prior attestations. However, hospitals and providers have been given the option of attesting in 2017. If the rule is approved, it could go into effect in fall of this year. However, if accepted at this time, the 2017 reporting year will start in January 2017. Many providers feel that this may not be enough time to adjust, resulting in certification issues.
The reporting requirement may present obstacles for CMS as well. By requiring that hospitals attest in the same timeframe, CMS runs the risk of websites crashing and limiting resources. While having everyone on the same schedule may sound easier in theory, in practice it may prove to be more difficult than we realize.
The mandatory 2018 transition to Stage 3 may also prove to be a challenge for providers who are just joining the healthcare industry. Having everyone transition to Stage 3 by a certain deadline will only intensify the transition period for these new providers.
While the processes outlined by this proposal are designed to streamline the process and move the healthcare industry towards a more technology-friendly format, Stage 3 is new, and with it will come new and unforeseen challenges. Providers and hospitals should take lessons from the past and plan for the best way to approach Stage 3.
Author: Lauren Daniels