CMS Provides More Meaningful Use Flexibility

The newest final rule for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provides more flexibility in how healthcare providers use certified electronic health record technology to meet meaningful use for an incentive reporting period in 2014.

The newest final rule for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provides more flexibility in how healthcare providers can use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology (CEHRT) to meet meaningful use for an incentive reporting period in 2014.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the rule just before the long holiday weekend. With the added flexibility, more providers will be able to participate and meet meaningful use objectives, such as drug interaction and drug allergy checks, electronic prescribing, and reporting on quality measures, according to CMS.

“We listened to stakeholder feedback and provided CEHRT flexibility for 2014 to help ensure providers can continue to participate in the EHR Incentive Programs forward,” said Marilyn Tavenner, CMS administrator. “We were excited to see that there is overwhelming support for this change.”

Now, eligible providers can use either the 2011 Edition CEHRT or a combination of 2011 and the 2014 Edition of CEHRT for a reporting period in 2014 for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

All eligible professionals, hospitals, and critical access hospitals will be required to use the 2014 Edition CEHRT in 2015.

CMS also provided an updated timeline. Stage 3 of meaningful use will begin in 2017 for providers who became users in 2011 or 2012, instead of 2016 as previously proposed. Providers who began in 2013 will also start Stage 3 in 2017. While those who started this year will start Stage 3 in 2018.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) was disappointed by the modifications, according to a statement released from Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO, president and chief executive officer of CHIME.

“CHIME is deeply disappointed in the decision made by CMS and ONC to require 365-days of EHR reporting in 2015," he wrote. "This single provision has severely muted the positive impacts of this final rule. Further, it has all but ensured that industry struggles will continue well beyond 2014.”