Additional Meaningful Use Changes Posed By CMS for Stages 1 & 2

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Guest post by Madelyn Kearns, Associate Editor for Medical Practice Insider

Medical Practice InsiderIt seems the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is taking the concept of Spring cleaning to heart, especially in the case of meaningful use. After dispatching a sizeable Stage 3 proposal mere weeks ago, CMS is now tending to the roots of the meaningful use program (Stages 1 and 2) with its latest addendum, which seeks alignment across the board in areas like reporting and goal-setting.

The most recent proposed rule, announced on April 10, seeks to alter the 2015 and 2016 reporting periods for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program to 90 days in conjunction with the corresponding calendar year. Moreover, the NPRM, if approved, would reduce the number of MU objectives — ditching requirements deemed too redundant or topped out — as a means to promote the advanced use of EHRs.

As far as Stage 2 is concerned, the agency is looking to change the following objectives in time for the beginning of the reporting period in 2015 by way of the proposal:

  • Changing the threshold from the Stage 2 Objective for Patient Electronic Access measure number 2 from “5 percent” to “equal to or greater than 1.”
  • Changing the threshold from the Stage 2 Objective Secure Electronic Messaging from being a percentage-based measure, to yes-no measure stating the “functionality fully enabled.”
  • Consolidating all public health reporting objectives into one objective with measure options following the structure of the Stage 3 Public Health Reporting Objective.
  • Changing the eligible hospital electronic prescribing objective from a “menu” objective to a mandatory objective with an exclusion available for certain eligible hospitals and CAHs.

At first light, many healthcare officials and experts seem in favor of the potential decree.

“HIMSS is encouraged that CMS has listened to our members and other stakeholder concerns and included more realistic parameters for providers and hospitals, so they can meet the meaningful use requirements in 2015 and beyond,” said HIMSS North America Vice President Carla Smith to Healthcare IT News.

But while CMS may have finally listened to provider and organizational input, the American Hospital Association worries that it could be too late: “The inclusion of numerous additional program changes at this late date risks causing confusion and added burden for hospitals on top of the elements proposed in Stage 3 rule,” remarked Linda E. Fishman, AHA senior vice president of public policy analysis and development.

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