CMS proposes extension of Meaningful Use Stage 2

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has reversed its position on the timeline for implementing the Meaningful Use incentive program, and will propose an extension of Stage 2 through 2016 and beginning Stage 3 in 2017 for those providers that have completed at least two years in Stage 2.

According to Robert Tagalicod, Director of CMS' Office of eStandards and Services, and Jacob Reider, Acting National Coordinator for Health IT, the goals of the extension are to focus efforts on enhanced patient engagement, interoperability and health information exchange in Stage 2 and to utilize data from Stage 2 to "inform policy decisions" for Stage 3.

"This new proposed timeline tracks ongoing conversations we at CMS and ONC have had with providers, consumers, health care associations, EHR developers, and other stakeholders in the health care industry," they state. "This timeline allows for enhanced program analysis of Stage 2 data to inform to the improvements in care delivery outcomes in Stage 3."

They note that the extended timeline would have several 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.

At the same time, ONC proposes a "more regular approach" to updating its certification regulations that calls for publishing a voluntary 2015 edition of certification criteria, updating the requirements more frequently, and spreading them out over a longer time period.

Notices of Proposed Rulemaking for Stage 3 and the 2017 edition of the certification criteria are expected in fall 2014.

Many stakeholders and others have called for Stage 2's implementation to be delayed, including the Medical Group Management Association, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Several legislators also have asked for Stage 2 to be delayed.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement