The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), recently released its final rule with comment period implementing Stage 3 of Meaningful Use. The release came in spite of strongly worded requests from members of Congress and stakeholders to delay the rule. At the same time, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology also issued its final rule for 2015 Health IT Certification Criteria. Here are the highlights of the final rule that should be of interest to allergists:
- For 2015, physicians can attest to Meaningful Use for any continuous 90-day period. The deadline for 2015 attestation is February 29, 2016.
- All physicians will be required to meet the Stage 3 rules by 2018. (Currently only about 10 percent of physicians have attested to Stage 2). Stage 3 is optional for 2017.
- New participants in 2016 and 2017 can take advantage of a 90-day reporting period. Thus, allergists that have not previously attested to Meaningful Use need only attest for a 90-day period.
- Starting in 2016, the number of objectives to be met for Stages 1 and 2 decreases from 18 to 10.
- For Stage 2, a physician need only demonstrate that one patient has viewed, downloaded, or transmitted their electronic health records – instead of the proposed 5 percent.
- Also for Stage 2, physicians need only attest that they have the capability to exchange secure electronic messages (instead of having done so with 5 percent of patients).
- CMS will review hardship exceptions on a case-by-case basis. CMS suggests that providers encountering technology difficulties or who are switching EHR vendors may be eligible for a hardship exception. CMS did not grant the Advocacy Council’s request for a hardship exception for physicians close to retirement.
In the meantime, CMS’s decision to provide an additional 60-day comment period indicates that additional changes to Stage 3 may be coming.