Hospital CIOs, others urge HHS to quickly finalize MU alterations rule

A diverse group of electronic health record vendors, provider representatives and others have called on the Department of Health and Human Services to quickly finalize the proposed rule modifying the Meaningful Use requirements for 2015-2017 before it's too late for them to comply with it.

In a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the 18-member coalition said it is "critical" that the proposed 90-day reporting period be confirmed and that proposals for public health reporting be clarified and enhanced. The Oct. 3 deadline to begin the final possible 90-day reporting period in 2015 is "fast-approaching" and if the rule isn't finalized "expeditiously" it will be "very difficult" for the industry to make the necessary workflow adjustments to meet the requirements, the letter states.  

"Overall, the department's efforts to simplify and focus Meaningful Use in the 2015-2017 Modifications Rule are welcomed by the community--and will be a key contributor to the ongoing success of the EHR Incentive Program," the letter states. "However, providers and technology developers need to have the certainty now that comes with a Final Rule in order to be able to meet the reporting deadlines for 2015 and continue participation in the program."

Individual organizations also are stressing the need for the final rule to be released quickly.

"The additional time proposed by the modifications rule could help hundreds of thousands of providers meet Meaningful Use requirements in an effective and safe manner," Leslie Krigstein, interim vice president of Public Policy for CHIME, said in a statement. "However, we are just 61 days away from the end of the fiscal year, and the final quarter of 2015, yet hospitals and physicians are without the rules outlining the requirements for participation in the program this year."

There had been some support for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' proposed rule softening some of the requirements of the Meaningful Use program for 2015 through 2017, but commenters also raised some concerns about it, including disappointment that it had not been released as an interim final rule, which would have reduced confusion and given stakeholders more time to prepare for it.

The proposed rule would, among other things, shorten the reporting period for 2015 from 365 to 90 days, and reduce the requirements regarding patients viewing, downloading or transmitting their electronic health information. Comments on the rule, which was released in April, were due June 1.

To learn more:
- read the letter (.pdf)
- here's CHIME's statement