HHS Releases Stage 2 Meaningful Use Final Rules

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has  announced the next step to boost adoption of electronic health records by doctors and hospitals with the release of the final requirements for stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU). 

The new rules outline what hospitals and health care providers must meet in order to qualify for incentives during the second stage of  EHR adoption as provided for under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.  The requirements announced August 24th:

  • Make clear that stage two of the program will begin as early as 2014. No providers will be required to follow the Stage 2 requirements outlined today before 2014;
  • Outline the certification criteria for EHR technology, so eligible professionals and hospitals may be assured that the systems they use will work, help them meaningfully use health information technology, and qualify for incentive payments;
  • Modify the certification program to cut red tape and make the certification process more efficient; and
  • Allow current “2011 Edition Certified EHR Technology” to be used until 2014.

More than 120,000 eligible health care professionals and more than 3,300 hospitals have qualified to participate in the program and receive an incentive payment since it began in January 2011. That exceeds a 100,000 goal set earlier this year. Ohio is currently fourth in the nation for Medicaid MU payouts and seventh nationally for Medicare payouts.  A total of 6,241 eligible Ohio providers and hospitals have received $268 million in Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Payments.

Natinally, that includes more than half of all eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals and 1 out of every 5 eligible health care professionals.  The program is divided into three stages:

  • Stage 1 sets the basic functionalities electronic health records must include such as capturing data electronically and providing patients with electronic copies of health information.
  • Stage 2 (which will begin as early as 2014) increases health information exchange between providers and promotes patient engagement by giving patients secure online access to their health information.
  • Stage 3 will continue to expand meaningful use objectives to improve health care outcomes.

The CMS final rule also provides a flexible reporting period for 2014 to give providers sufficient time to adopt or upgrade to the latest EHR technology certified for 2014. 

A fact sheet on CMS’s final rule is available at http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/fact_sheets.asp.

A detailed fact sheet on ONC’s standards and certification criteria final rule is available at http://healthit.hhs.gov/standardsandcertification.

The final rules may be viewed at http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1.

More information on the Stage 2 rule can be found at the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website at www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms.


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