CMS Announces Modified Meaningful Use Requirements

On January 29, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Chief Medical Officer, Patrick Conway, announced that CMS plans to propose new rules this spring to update the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. (A copy of the full announcement, posted to the CMS blog, can be found here.) CMS intends for the modified Meaningful Use requirements to alleviate the reporting burden on providers and respond specifically to concerns related to information exchange readiness and software implementation.

Since the inception of the EHR Incentive Programs in 2011, many healthcare providers in the United States have adopted EHRs. However, implementation has not been without challenges. CMS’s planned rules respond to providers’ concerns that the current reporting requirements are too burdensome. CMS is considering proposals that would:

  • Shorten the EHR reporting period to ninety-days, rather than one year;
  • Align required reporting measures for physicians who bill Medicare; and
  • Modify hospital EHR reporting periods to follow the calendar year rather than the fiscal year, with the goal of allowing eligible hospitals more time to incorporate new software into their workflows.

CMS was careful to clarify that these potential changes, expected to take effect this year, are separate from the Meaningful Use Stage 3 proposed rule, which is expected to be released in March, 2015, and which will affect requirements and criteria for 2017. These rules will be of particular importance as the Meaningful Use program is scheduled to move to a penalty-only phase in 2017 and beyond.

The American Medical Association, HIMSS, the College of Healthcare Information management Executives, and the Medical Group Management Association, as well as other leaders in the healthcare industry have expressed their support of this latest announcement.

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