- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the final rule for Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program.
- According to a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services, the final rule will simplify requirements and add new flexibilities for providers utilizing electronic health information.
- In addition to the final rule for the EHR Incentive Programs, The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced the final rule for the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria.
According to HHS, major provisions in the Stage 3 rule include 10 objectives for eligible professionals including one public health reporting objective (down from 18 total objectives in prior stages) and nine objectives for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) including one public health reporting objective (down from 20 total objectives in prior stages).
Clinical quality measures (CQM) reporting for both eligible professionals and eligible hospitals/CAHs remain as previously finalized.
In a conference call, Dr. Patrick Conway, CMS deputy administrator for innovation and quality and chief medical officer, highlighted the announcement as a "reflection of our efforts to listen and understand physicians and other providers on the challenges they face making this technology work well for their individual practices and for their practices."
The HHS, in the statement, stated the rules will "ease the reporting burden for providers, support interoperability, and improve patient outcomes." In addition, providers can choose the measures of progress that are most meaningful to their practice and are encouraged to apply for hardship exceptions if they need to switch or have other technology difficulties with their EHR vendor.
In response to a question from a reporter regarding the hardship exemption, Conway noted it will be processed on a case-by-case basis by statute by law. "We're trying to enable providers to be able to find [EHR] systems that best meet their needs and improve outcomes for patients," he said.
CMS will take public comment on the meaningful use rule for 60 days from Oct. 16, when it is expected to be published in the Federal Register. Conway noted the decision to release the rule may not please those who pushed for its delay, but said the agency believes the additional comment period "will allow for significant engagement."