The Evolution of Meaningful Use: Today, Stage 3, and Beyond

 


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The late-breaking regulations for electronic health records require practices to get up to speed quickly.

Fam Pract Manag. 2016 Jan-Feb;23(1):17-22.

Author disclosures: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

Editor's note: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in early January 2016 that it will phase out the meaningful use program later this year to make way for new electronic health record regulations created under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). For the time being, however, the current rules remain in effect. Although the meaningful use program may not be a stand-alone program under MACRA, the requirements will likely continue. This article provides information on the requirements for 2015, as eligible professionals have until the end of February 2016 to attest to meaningful use for 2015. The article also lays out the current requirements for 2016 through 2018 to support future planning by practices.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on Oct. 6, 2015, released a final rule governing the electronic health records (EHR) meaningful use (MU) program through 2018. The timing of the rule's release was challenging as it gave practices fewer than 90 days to make adjustments. The good news, if there is any, is that if physicians or other eligible professionals (EPs) were on track to meet the old requirements, they should be able to meet the new ones. The new rule eases the requirements in Stage 2 and changes the reporting period for all EPs to any consecutive 90 days in 2015. More important, the new rule initiated a fundamental change in MU that will roll the program into a single set of requirements, beginning in 2015 and ending in 2018. In fact, it now makes more sense to think of MU in terms of calendar years than stages.

2015 – Exit Stage 1

The 2015 reporting period for all EPs is any consecutive 90 days from Jan. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2015. EPs can attest to MU beginning Jan. 4, 2016, and must complete their attestation by Feb. 29 (see “Meaningful use reporting periods”).

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MEANINGFUL USE REPORTING PERIODS

2015

Reporting period for payment adjustment year

Deadline to attest to avoid payment adjustment in 2016

Deadline to attest to avoid payment adjustment in 2017

New participants (eligible professionals who have not successfully demonstrated meaningful use in a prior year)

Any continuous 90 days in 2015

Feb. 29, 2016

Feb. 29, 2016

Returning participants (eligible professionals who have successfully demonstrated meaningful use in a prior year)

Any continuous 90 days in 2015

None

Feb. 29, 2016

2016

Reporting period for payment adjustment year

Deadline to attest to avoid payment adjustment in 2017

Deadline to attest to avoid payment adjustment in 2018

New participants

Any continuous 90 days in 2016

Oct. 1, 2016

Feb. 28, 2017

Returning participants

Calendar year 2016

None

Feb. 28, 2017

2017

Reporting

About the Author

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Dr. Waldren is director of the Alliance for eHealth Innovation at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)....

Erin Solis is regulatory compliance strategist for the AAFP.

Author disclosures: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

 

 

Copyright © 2016 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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