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New Data Shows Rapid Adoption of EHRs; Announcements of 2015 Policies

Since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – which included the creation of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs – was signed into law, the nation has seen unprecedented growth in the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs). Between 2009 and 2012, EHR adoption nearly doubled among physicians and more than tripled among hospitals. Every month, thousands of providers join the ranks of hospitals and professionals that have adopted or are meaningfully using EHRs. As of October 2013, 85 percent of eligible hospitals and more than six in 10 eligible professionals had received a Medicare or Medicaid EHR incentive payment. Moreover, nine in 10 eligible hospitals and eight in 10 eligible professionals had taken the initial step of registering for the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs as of October 2013.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today proposed a new timeline for the implementation of meaningful use for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) proposed a more regular approach to update ONC’s certification regulations.

Under the revised timeline, Stage 2 will be extended through 2016 and Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for those providers that have completed at least two years in Stage 2. The goal of this change is two-fold: first, to allow CMS and ONC to focus efforts on the successful implementation of the enhanced patient engagement, interoperability and health information exchange requirements in Stage 2; and second, to utilize data from Stage 2 participation to inform policy decisions for Stage 3.

The phased approach to program participation helps providers move from creating information in Stage 1, to exchanging health information in Stage 2, to focusing on improved outcomes in Stage 3. This approach has allowed us to support an aggressive yet smart transition for providers.

This new proposed timeline tracks ongoing conversations we at CMS and ONC have had with providers, consumers, health care associations, EHR developers, and other stakeholders in the health care industry. This timeline allows for enhanced program analysis of Stage 2 data to inform the improvements in care delivery outcomes in Stage 3.

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.

Expected Timing for Rulemaking

We expect that in the fall of 2014 CMS will release proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for Stage 3 and corresponding ONC NPRM for the 2017 Edition of the ONC Standards and Certification Criteria will be released in the fall of 2014, which will outline further details for this …read more

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