Fewer than half of physicians have met Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements and, despite a promise to add flexibility to reporting requirements in 2015, the (CMS) has released a proposed rule for Stage 3 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program that some stakeholders say is anything but flexible.
“The release of [this] rule demonstrates that the agency continues to create policies for the future without fixing the problems the program faces today,” says Linda E. Fishman, senior vice president of public policy analysis and development for the (AHA). “In January, CMS promised to provide much-needed flexibility for the 2015 reporting year, which is almost half over. Instead, CMS released Stage 3 rules that pile additional requirements onto providers.
“It is difficult to understand the rush to raise the bar yet again, when only 35% of hospitals and a small fraction of physicians have met the Stage 2 requirements,” Fishman adds.
CMS’s Meaningful Use Stage 3 rule sets out new criteria providers must meet to qualify for Medicaid EHR incentive payments and Medicare payment adjustments based on program performance starting in payment year 2018. Many aspects of the new rule focus on using electronic health records and eliminating outdated requirements.
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“This Stage 3 proposed rule…helps simplify the meaningful use program, advances the use of health IT toward our vision for improving health delivery, and further aligns the program with other quality and value programs,” says Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, CMS acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer. “And, in an effort to make reporting easier for health care providers, we will be proposing a new meaningful use reporting deadline soon.”
In 2017, providers will still have the option of attesting to Stage 1 or Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. Starting in 2018, however, the new rule would require that all providers attest to Stage 3 Meaningful Use, regardless of which stage they were in before. And while the proposed rule doesn’t take effect until 2017 and beyond, it includes some lofty goals, such as a requirement to “actively engage” a quarter of hospital or emergency department discharges through electronic records, and another requirement to create a summary of care for more than half of transitions of care or referrals.
The proposed rule also increases the percentage of patients who engage by viewing their health records on their own from 5% to 25%, plus another 5% to 25% increase in the rate of secure messaging. Additionally, providers would be required to capture patient-generated health data from 15% of their patients by collecting information from devices such as Fitbits.