The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Jan. 29 that the agency intends to update its standard for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs, easing reporting burdens on participating physicians and other healthcare providers, starting this year, and clarifying standards of meaningful use.
“The new rule, expected this spring, would be intended to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015. It would also be intended to propose changes reflective of developments in the industry and progress toward program goals achieved since the program began in 2011,” Dr. Patrick Conway, chief medical officer, wrote on the official CMS blog.
The goal of the change will be to improve health outcomes for patients by better partnering with providers, Conway continued.
Proposed changes include aligning the reporting period for hospitals to the calendar year (hospitals currently report on the fiscal year, while individual physicians report on the calendar year), reducing the complexity of the reporting process, and shortening the reporting period from one year to 90 days.
The president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Robert Wergin, commented Jan. 30 that these changes have been advocated for by countless physicians. “We’re gratified to see that our collective voice has been heard and needed change is coming,” he said.
The announcement from CMS clarified that the expected rule is separate than the Stage 3 guidelines that are expected to be released in early March. Stage 3 will apply to meaningful use requirements starting in 2017.
CMS has not yet said exactly when the new rule for 2015 will be issued. Neil Versel, writing for Forbes, said the language used for the announcement is “bureaucrat-speak for ‘we’re going to do it, but don’t take it to the bank just yet,’” but this announcement is far more concrete than previous indicators that steps would be taken.