Committee releases Stage 3 rules for electronic health records

Health care providers must demonstrate “meaningful use” of EHRs to qualify for incentives.

A federal health information technology committee this week released its proposed rules for Stage 3 meaningful use of electronic health records -- the first step in a long public process of reviewing how the government assesses whether EHRs qualify for incentive payments under Medicare and Medicaid.

Health care providers must demonstrate “meaningful use” of EHRs to qualify for incentives. Meaningful use stages are being phased in over several years, with each stage raising levels of functionality, usability and data exchange required of EHR systems.

The committee’s “vision” for Stage 3 “includes a collaborative model of care with shared responsibility and accountability, building upon the previous [meaningful use] objectives,” according to the document released Wednesday by the Health Information Technology Policy Committee.

“While the committee appreciates and recognizes today’s challenges in setting up data exchanges, it is the committee’s recommendation that Stage 3 is the time to begin to transition from a setting-specific focus to a collaborative, patient- and family- centric approach,” the committee wrote.

With that in mind, the committee said Stage 3 objectives should:

  • Support new models of care;
  • Address national health priorities;
  • Have broad applicability to different medical specialties, patient health needs and regions of the country;
  • Promote advancement of EHR capabilities; and,
  • Be achievable and feasible.

The recommendations are broken down into charts comparing them with the final Stage 2 rules and briefly outlining what might be next for future stages. The 44-page document also includes several issues on which the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT requests comment.

A 45-day comment period is under way, to be followed by the committee’s review in the first three months of 2013. Stage 2 guidance is final, but the deadline for compliance isn’t until 2014. The tentative date for Stage 3 compliance is in 2016.