Health and Human Services (HHS) this month published a new proposed rule to its Meaningful Use program that would change what version of certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) physicians must use and when they must attest for Stage 2. There are two groups of physicians that this new rule could affect:
• All physicians attesting to Meaningful Use in 2014 – HHS proposes that if a physician has difficulty fully implementing a 2014 edition CEHRT because of a delay in availability in the market, they may use a 2011 edition CEHRT to attest to Meaningful Use in 2014. The rule does not clarify what does and does not constitute a “delay in availability.” This may be clarified in the final version of the rule.
• Physicians currently required to attest to Stage 2 – If you attested to Meaningful Use starting in 2011 or 2012, you were originally required to attest to Stage 2 of Meaningful Use this year. The proposed rule states that if you have difficulty fully implementing a 2014 edition CEHRT, you can (a) use a 2011 edition CEHRT to attest to Stage 1; (b) use a combination of 2011 edition and 2014 edition CEHRT to attest to either Stage 1 or Stage 2; or (3) still use a 2014 edition CEHRT and attest to Stage 2.
Be warned, however, that you will be required to complete your second year of Stage 2 attestation using a 2014 edition CEHRT starting Jan. 1, 2015. This means that although Stage 2 is delayed you do not have a reprieve to slow your implementation of a 2014 edition CEHRT. You will still need to perform the required Stage 2 activities at the first of the year.
The final tricky part is the federal rule-making bureaucracy. HHS must submit a notice of proposed rule making, which is what we are discussing now, before then requesting public comment, and then publishing a final rule. While it is extremely likely that this flexibility in using CEHRT and attesting to Stage 2 will be in the final rule, it may be changed by then. However, the marketplace asked for this flexibility, so it is hard to believe that the final rule would change dramatically.
– Steven E. Waldren, director of the Alliance for E-Health Innovation
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