Meaningful Use reporting period change gains widespread industry approval

Hospital CIOs on FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board applauded the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announcement Thursday that it plans to shorten the attesting reporting period for Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs in 2015 from 365 days to 90 days. The agency said it will unveil a rule this spring.

Sue Schade (pictured right), CIO at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, said the decision will help to provide relief for some providers in the industry. "We've been diligently working toward Meaningful Use, knowing it's the right thing to do for our patients, but at the same time are realists about what it will take to truly achieve," Schade told FierceEMR via email. "Good for CMS to be realists with us."

Todd Richardson (pictured left), senior vice president and CIO at Wausau, Wisconsin-based Aspirus Inc., agreed, saying that while some hospitals may be further along than others, overall it will be helpful.

"Given the amount of feedback they have received, it is good to know that these efforts do make a difference and that our collective voice is heard."

Donna Staton (pictured right), vice president and CIO at Warrenton, Virginia-based Fauquier Health, said she is "thrilled" with the decision, particularly in light of challenges she is experiencing with her hospital's ambulatory vendor Meaningful Use Stage 2 upgrade. "This will take some of the pressure off and allow providers to implement meaningful workflows in their practices that can be sustained for improved patient engagement," she told FierceEMR.

Roger Neal (pictured left), vice president and CIO at Duncan (Oklahoma) Regional Hospital, echoed Staton's sentiments, saying that the decision will lead to safer processes.

"There are still lots of issues with vendor compliance, speed of upgrades, etc., that we've been struggling with," Neal told FierceEMR. "This change helps a great deal."

In addition to hospital CIOs, both the American Medical Association and the Medical Group Management Association welcomed--albeit cautiously--the CMS announcement.

AMA President-Elect Steven Stack said his organization is "eager" to see the forthcoming proposed rule; he pointed out that AMA recently provided recommendations for revamping the EHR certification process, as well as a blueprint for fixing the Meaningful Use program as a whole, and a framework for improving EHR usability.

"EHRs are intended to help physicians improve care for their patients, but unfortunately, today's EHR certification standards and the stringent requirements of the Meaningful Use program do not support that goal and decrease efficiency," Stack said in a statement. "We hope the new rule will be issued expediently to provide the flexibility needed to allow more physicians to successfully participate in the Meaningful Use program and better align Meaningful Use with other quality reporting programs, such as the Physician Quality Reporting System and the Value-base Modifier."

Anders Gilberg, senior vice president of government affairs for MGMA, also urged CMS to "expedite" the release of its 90-day reporting provision, in a statement emailed to FierceHealthIT.

"The number of eligible professionals successfully attesting for Stage 2 of the program in 2014 were sharply down from those attesting for Stage 1, making significant changes to Meaningful Use essential," Gilberg said.

To learn more:
- here's the AMA statement