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From Health Law Daily, December 06, 2013

CMS revises timeline for Meaningful Use Stages 2 and 3

By Greg Hammond, JD, and Sheila Lynch-Afryl, JD, MA

CMS issued a new timeline on December 6, 2013, for Stages 2 and 3 of the meaningful use program, as part of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHRs) Incentive Programs. Under the revised timeline, Stage 2 will be extended through 2016 and Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for providers that have completed at least two years in Stage 2. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT also proposed adjustments to its certification process.

Proposed rulemaking. CMS anticipates releasing a proposed rule in the fall of 2014 for Stage 3 and a corresponding proposed rule for the 2017 Edition of the ONC Standards and Certification Criteria. The final rule with all requirements for Stage 3 will follow in the first half of 2015. CMS also anticipates publishing a proposed rule for a 2015 Edition of certification criteria.

Stage 2. The meaningful use requirements of the Incentive Programs are designed to encourage the use of EHRs by offering incentive payments. According toCMS, prior to the issuance of its new timeline, the earliest that Stage 2 criteria would have been effective for eligible hospitals would be January 2014. However, eligible hospitals would be required to have completed two years of Stage 1. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT notes that Stage 2 meaningful use criteria focus on advancing clinical processes. Specifically, Stage 2 looks to develop: (a) a more rigorous health information exchange (HIE); (b) increased requirements for e-prescribing and including lab results; (c) electronically transmitting patient care summaries through numerous settings; and (d) more patient-controlled data.

Stage 3. Stage 3 meaningful use criteria focuses on improved outcomes. Specifically, Stage 3 looks to: (a) improve quality, safety, and efficiency for better health outcomes; (b) provide decision support for high-priority conditions; (c) provide patient access for self-management tools; (d) allow access to comprehensive patient data though HIE; and (e) demonstrate an overall improvement in population health.  

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