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Certified EHR technology to gain flexibility from ONC, CMS proposal

Beginning late last year, officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) began publicizing their ideas for tweaking the next two stages of the meaningful use program.

In formalizing their plans earlier this week, ONC and CMS jointly announced a rule proposal that would allow providers to use 2011 Edition certified EHR technology (CEHRT), 2014 CEHRT or a combination of the two during this year to attest to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. The proposal would also extend the attestation period for stage 2 of the meaningful use program through 2016.  Stage 3 would adjust accordingly and not begin until 2017.

“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,” Karen DeSalvo, M.D., national coordinator for health IT, said in a CMS release.

The updates to the timelines of stages 2 and 3 weren’t unforeseen. The big news was the certified EHR technology curveball — which elicited a quick reaction from The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). CHIME’s message was one of encouragement. It thinks the proposed change will give providers a better chance to participate in stage 1 or 2 of meaningful use in 2014, depending on where each provider is in the program.

“If the government acts quickly to finalize the proposed rule, it will provide the flexibility needed for our members and their organizations to adequately optimize newly deployed technology and ensure success of the program,” Russell P. Branzell, CHIME President and CEO, said in a CHIME announcement.

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