Adoption of EHRs Continues at Rapid Pace; Timeline to be Modified

December 23, 2013

Adoption of EHRs Continues at Rapid Pace; Timeline to be Modified

New data shared by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show that the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) surged in the period between 2009 and 2012. During this time, adoption almost doubled among physicians and more than tripled among hospitals.

Also encouraging is the number of hospitals and providers earning incentive payments. Through October 2013, 85 percent of eligible hospitals and about 60 percent of eligible providers had received Medicare or Medicaid incentive payments for demonstrating meaningful use of an EHR. The release from CMS also states that about 90 percent of hospitals and 80 percent of providers have taken the initial step of registering for the Medicare of Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs as of October 2013.

In addition to releasing this data, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also 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.

According to the release, authored by Robert Tagalicod, Director, Office of E-Health Standards and Services, CMS and Jacob Reider, MD, Acting National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, ONC, 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 two-fold goal is 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 to utilize data from Stage 2 participation to inform policy decisions for Stage 3.

CMS and ONC expect that the extension will yield a number of benefits, including:

  • 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.

CMS expects rulemaking to begin in the fall of 2014 and the new timeline to roll out shortly thereafter. The new timeline means that eligible providers who have completed at least two years of Stage 2 would begin Stage 3 in 2017, although concrete timelines won't be established for some time.

For the complete release, please visit this link: http://www.cms.gov/eHealth/ListServ_Stage3Implementation.html

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