CMS recently finalized a rule allowing eligible providers more flexibility in how they meet the third stage of meaningful-use requirements for the electronic health-record incentive program. The rule would grant providers a longer timeline and more flexibility in meeting the incentive goals laid out by the stimulus program first created in the 2009 HITECH Act. The incentive program provides doctors and hospitals stimulus funding to implement electronic health records. The rule pushes back the beginning of the third stage of meaningful-use for the first group of adopters to January 1, 2017, from January 1, 2016.
Also, some providers struggling with adoption of 2014 certified EHRs will be granted more flexibility. Providers essentially now have an extra year to use 2011 Edition software. The final rule notes that availability of technology was constrained because of late certification and high demand. In the final rule, providers unable to adopt 2014 technology because of availability of “certified” technology have three options. For providers intending to demonstrate Stage 1 meaningful use in 2014, they can use 2011 technology to show they met 2013 first-stage standards; or can use a combination of 2011 and 2014 technology to meet 2013-14 first-stage standards; or could use 2014 technology to fulfill 2014 first-stage standards.
More information regarding Stage 3 Meaningful-Use can be found here.