New 'Meaningful Use' Rules Are Out for E-Health Record Incentives

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Stage 2 meaningful use rules for electronic health record incentives are out, released Thursday afternoon by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The CMS rule and the ONC standards and certification criteria let health-care providers know what’s expected of them as they build and expand their health IT capabilities. Providers’ EHRs must meet meaningful use requirements to qualify for substantial financial incentives under Medicare and Medicaid.

The new rules give providers until 2014 to show they have met the Stage 2 criteria, instead of 2013 as originally proposed, according to a CMS fact sheet.

Changes include:

  • Substituting “transitions of care” for “exchange of key clinical information” as a core objective, and providing patients electric and online access to their health records instead of providing electronic copies of the information.
  • Adding two new core objectives: using secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients, and automatically tracking medications from order to administration using assistive technologies in conjunction with an electronic medication administration record (eMAR.)
  • Allowing a batch reporting process for attesting to meaningful use, allowing information to be submitted in one file.
  • Reducing the patient engagement thresholds from 10 percent to 5 percent.
  • Reducing the threshold for sending summary-of-care records for care transitions and referrals from 65 percent to 50 percent, and requiring at least one exchange with a provider using EHR technology from a different vendor.

An ONC fact sheet describes standards and certification criteria changes, including:

  • Adopting certification criteria for transitions of care ensuring EHR technology supports standards-based electronic health information exchange.
  • Requiring that test reports for EHR certification be publicly available, with developers following specific price transparency practices.
  • Allowing “gap certification” for certain criteria, which ONC says will make the process more efficient.