CMS rule provides EHR certification flexibility for 2014

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT are giving the healthcare industry a reprieve, issuing a proposed rule that would allow providers to use 2011 edition of certification criteria in 2014.

The new rule, released May 20 and slated to be published in the Federal Register May 23, would enable providers to use the 2011 edition of certified electronic health record technology for Stage 1 or Stage 2 in 2014. They would have the option to attest to the 2013 definition of Meaningful Use core and menu items and use the 2013 definition of clinical quality measures.   

Providers would need to use the 2014 edition of certification criteria in 2015.

The proposed rule also formalizes the agencies' intention to extend Stage 2 to 2016 and to begin Stage 3 in 2017.

In the rule, CMS and ONC acknowledge that vendors have not had sufficient time to make the requisite coding changes to move to the 2014 edition and that EHR certification bodies have had a backlog in certifying the upgraded products. They noted in the preamble that they want to "grant more flexibility to providers who have experienced 2014 Edition CEHRT product availability issues that impact the ability to fully implement 2014 Edition CEHRT to attest to meaningful use using 2014 Edition CEHRT."

As of March, only four eligible hospitals and 50 eligible professionals had attested to Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use program in the 2014 reporting year.

Many stakeholders have decried CMS' initial desire to keep "the pedal to the metal," saying the requirements were too difficult and the timeline to change too short. The American Medical Association just last week asked CMS and ONC to make the program more flexible.

Assuming that the rule is published May 23, comments would be due July 22.  

To learn more:
- here is the proposed rule (.pdf)