Without fanfare and in a Blog Post, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the deadline for healthcare providers to meet Stage 2 standards for “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs) will be postponed by one year, to 2016. Stage 3 will now begin in 2017 for providers who have completed two years of Stage 2 by then.
Blog Post is at: http://www.cms.gov/eHealth/
important part follows:
This new proposed timeline tracks ongoing conversations we at CMS and ONC have had with providers, consumers, health care associations, EHR developers, and other stakeholders in the health care industry. This timeline allows for enhanced program analysis of Stage 2 data to inform to the improvements in care delivery outcomes in Stage 3.
The proposed timeline for meaningful use would have a number of benefits, such as:
• More analysis of feedback from stakeholders on Stage 2 progress and outcomes;
• More available data on Stage 2 adoption and measure calculations – especially on new patient engagement measures and health information exchange objectives;
• More consideration of potential Stage 3 requirements;
• Additional time for preparation for enhanced Stage 3 requirements;
• Ample time for developers to create and distribute certified EHR technology before Stage 3 begins, and incorporate lessons learned about usability and customization.
Expected Timing for Rulemaking
We expect that in the fall of 2014, CMS will release a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for Stage 3, and corresponding ONC NPRM for the 2017 Edition of the ONC Standards and Certification Criteria will be released in the fall of 2014, which will outline further details for this proposed new timeline. The final rule with all requirements for Stage 3 would follow in the first half of 2015. All stakeholder comments will be reviewed and carefully considered before the release of the final rules.
What the New Timeline Would Mean for Providers
Eligible providers who have completed at least two years of Stage 2 would begin Stage 3 in 2017. We currently anticipate that eligible professionals would begin in January 2017, at the start of the calendar year, and eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals would begin in October 2016, at the start of the federal fiscal year.
The new regulatory approach to certification that ONC is proposing would allow for certification criteria to be updated more frequently under the ONC HIT Certification Program. This approach is designed to provide public input on policy proposals, enable our certification processes to more quickly adapt to include newer industry standards that can lead to greater interoperability, and add more predictability for EHR technology developers. We also anticipate that this new approach would spread out over a longer time period the certification requirements to which EHR technology developers have previously had to react.
Our first step under this new approach would be to publish a proposed rule for a 2015 Edition of certification criteria. We intend for the 2015 Edition certification criteria to improve on the 2014 Edition certification criteria in several ways. We expect the 2015 Edition would be responsive to stakeholder feedback; would address issues found in the 2014 Edition; and would reference updated standards and implementation guides that we expect would continue momentum toward greater interoperability. We expect to propose that the 2015 Edition would be voluntary in the sense that providers participating in the EHR Incentive Programs would NOT have to upgrade to 2015 Edition EHR technology and NO EHR technology developer who has certified its EHR technology to the 2014 Edition would need to recertify its products. Our intention would be for the 2014 Edition to remain the baseline certification criteria edition for meeting the Certified EHR Technology definition.
Barry A Brown