Relief is coming for thousands of providers who worried about gathering and reporting EHR data for 365 days as part of stage 2 of the government’s meaningful use program.
CMS announced on its blog this morning that it intends to relax its meaningful use reporting period to 90 days for stage 2 in 2015, a move that industry groups such as the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the American Medical Association pushed hard for.
“The agencies have listened,” said Russell Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO, president and CEO of CHIME. “CMS and the ONC have been nothing but supportive.”
The time and money required to attest for a 365-day reporting period gave heartburn to many hospitals and physicians.
Specifically, CMS proposed today to update its Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs to accomplish the following goals:
- Adjust hospital EHR reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to install and implement 2014 edition software
- Modify other aspects of the program to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen provider reporting burdens
- Shorten the EHR reporting period in 2015 to 90 days to accommodate these changes
These actions will be part of a proposed rule from the agency, and as such, related public comment and deliberation will take time, Branzell said.
However, CMS’ announcement allow providers who had become pessimistic about the 365-day reporting period — and dropped out of the incentive program — to reconsider with the 90-day timeline, he added.
“For many that were giving up … now they can go back and say, ‘Let’s start collecting data,’ because now they can collect data without incurring penalties and participate,” he said.
The stage 2 announcement is separate from CMS’ upcoming stage 3 rule, which it expects to publish in March, Patrick Conway, M.D., wrote in the agency’s blog post.
“CMS intends to limit the scope of the Stage 3 proposed rule to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and subsequent years,” wrote Conway, who is deputy administrator for innovation and quality and CMS’ chief medical officer.
At the end of 2014, a coalition of healthcare industry groups attempted unsuccessfully to insert a 90-day clause into a federal government spending package.
The point of the government’s reporting mandates is to increase the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs.
Scott Wallask is news director at SearchHealthIT. Follow him on Twitter @Scott_HighTech.