By Patrick Conway, MD
Today, we at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are pleased to announce our intent to engage in rulemaking to update the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs beginning in 2015. These intended changes would help to reduce the reporting burden on providers, while supporting the long term goals of the program.
Since the first year of the EHR Incentive Programs in 2011, the United States has seen unprecedented growth in the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs. To date, more than 400,000 eligible providers have joined the ranks of hospitals and professionals that have adopted or are meaningfully using EHRs. This means that millions of patients across the nation are benefiting from the potential of better coordinated care among professionals, more accurate prescribing, and improved communication.
The new rule, expected this spring, would be intended to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015. It would also be intended to propose changes reflective of developments in the industry and progress toward program goals achieved since the program began in 2011.
We are considering proposals to:
- Realign hospital EHR reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other CMS quality programs.
- Modify other aspects of the program to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burdens.
- Shorten the EHR reporting period in 2015 to 90 days to accommodate these changes.
To clarify, we are working on multiple tracks right now to realign the program to reflect the progress toward program goals and be responsive to stakeholder input. Today’s announcement that we intend to pursue the changes to meaningful use beginning in 2015 through rulemaking, is separate from the forthcoming Stage 3 proposed rule that is expected to be released by early March. CMS intends to limit the scope of the Stage 3 proposed rule to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and subsequent years.
These changes reflect the Department of Health and Human Services’ commitment to creating a health information technology infrastructure that elevates patient-centered care, improves health outcomes and supports the providers who care for patients. We continuously strive to work in partnership with providers to improve affordability, access, and quality.
For more information about the EHR Incentive Programs, please visit HTTP://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms.