Thursday, December 12, 2013

Government Proposes New Timeline for Implementing 'Meaningful Use' Criteria

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a modification of its timeline for physician adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs). This program, designed to encourage physicians and hospitals to use EHR programs, pays an incentive that is added to Medicare reimbursements for physicians who adopt EHRs, but will impose deductions on the reimbursements of those who fail to do so. Under the revised timeline, Stage 2 of EHR adoption will be extended through 2016, and Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for providers who have completed at least two years in Stage 2. The program is currently in Stage 1. Among the goals of the proposal to shift the timeline is to give CMS more time to use data from Stage 2 participation to inform policy decisions for Stage 2, the agency explained in a press release. According to CMS, "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."

In 2015, Medicare providers who have not started using a certified EHR will begin seeing a claims penalty. However, as the meaningful use program is voluntary for Medicaid providers, they will not be subject to penalties if they do not participate.

To read more about the meaningful use EHR program, see the Psychiatric News article, "Is 'Meaningful Use' for Me?"

(image: peterfactors/


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