Eligible professionals and hospitals will have greater flexibility in demonstrating meaningful use in the 2014 reporting year based on a rule proposed by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
In a joint statement, the two federal agencies overseeing the EHR Incentive Programs — the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) — have indicated that providers would be allowed to use either 2011 Edition certified EHR technology (CEHRT) or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Editions CEHRT for their EHR reporting period in 2014 for both EHR Incentive Programs. However, in 2015 all eligible providers will be required to use technology certified under the 2014 Edition criteria.
The proposed rule should offer relief to eligible providers struggling to implement 2014 Edition CEHRT. CMS went as far as providing a meaningful use hardship exception for physicians and hospitals finding themselves in that predicament.
“Increasing the adoption of EHRs is key to improving the nation’s health care system and the steps we are taking today will give new options to those who, through no fault of their own, have been unable to get the new 2014 Edition technology, including those at high risk, such as smaller providers and rural hospitals,” National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, said in a public statement.
The proposed rule also includes a provision to extend Stage 2 through 2016 and begin Stage 3 in 2017.
“We have seen tremendous participation in the EHR Incentive Programs since they began,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a public statement. “By extending Stage 2, we are being receptive to stakeholder feedback to ensure providers can continue to meet meaningful use and keep momentum moving forward.”
Read the proposed rule here.