Feds Finalize Next Stage of 'Meaningful Use' Guidelines
"Meaningful use" refers to provisions in the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which authorized incentive payments through Medicare and Medicaid to clinicians and hospitals that use electronic health records (EHRs) in a meaningful way that significantly improves clinical care.
Broadly, in order to be clinicians must show their EHR is capable of e-prescribing; exchanging health information with other doctors, patients, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); and submitting clinical quality and other measures for analysis.
There will be three different stages of meaningful use requirements under which providers will have to progressively increase their use of EHRs.
The Stage 1 requirements were issued in 2010; they largely dealt with doctors and hospitals just getting an EHR system in place.
The criteria proposed Thursday for Stage 2 focus on capturing health information in a more structured format and on increasing the exchange of information between providers, according to CMS.
Providers must prove their EHR system is capable of meeting a list of specific objectives outlined by CMS, such as having the capability of exchanging a patient's notes, medication list, allergies, and diagnostic test results.
Under the proposed Stage 2 rule, providers who haven't proven they've met the Stage 1 requirements of meaningful use by Oct.
3, 2014 face a 1% cut in Medicare Part B pay starting in 2015, and the percentage is expected to increase a percentage point each year thereafter for at least a couple of years.
That deadline for meeting the Stage 1 requirements is nine months later than the original deadline of Dec.
According to a presented here Tuesday of 302 hospital IT executives, more than one-quarter said they had already proven to CMS that they have met the government's standard for the first stage of meaningful use of health IT.
That essentially means they have shown they have the baseline capabilities in their CMS-approved health IT system to collect and submit data.