On August 23, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its final rule on requirements that hospitals and other providers must meet to receive funding under the second phase of the federal electronic health record incentive program. The Stage 2 "meaningful-use" requirements will go into effect in early 2014, according to the final rule. The final rule also provides a flexible reporting period for 2014 to give providers sufficient time to adopt or upgrade to the latest EHR technology certified for 2014.
Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, doctors, health-care professionals and hospitals can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments when they adopt and meaningfully use certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. More than 120,000 eligible health care professionals and more than 3,300 hospitals have qualified to participate in the program and receive an incentive payment since it began in January 2011. That exceeds a 100,000 goal set earlier this year.
The final rule makes clear that stage two of the program will begin as early as 2014. No providers will be required to follow the Stage 2 requirements before 2014. The rule also outlines the certification criteria for EHR technology, so eligible professionals and hospitals may be assured that the systems they use will work, help them meaningfully use health information technology, and qualify for incentive payments. In addition, the rule modifies the certification program to cut red tape and make the certification process more efficient. The rule also allows current "2011 Edition Certified EHR Technology" to be used until 2014.
More information on the Stage 2 rule can be found at the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website.
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