I think that most of us in the industry figured this was just a matter of time, but it’s nice that we were right and CMS is working to modify the requirements and reporting periods for meaningful use. I imagine they heard all the many voices that were calling for a change to meaningful use stage 2 and it’s just taken them this long to work through the government process to make it a reality.
Before I act like this change is already in place, CMS was very specific in the wording of their announcement about their “intent to modify requirements for meaningful use” and their “intent to engage in rulemaking” in order to make these “intended” changes. Basically they’re saying that they can just change the rules. They have to go through the rule making process for these changes to go into effect. That said, I don’t think anyone doubts that this will make it through the rule making process.
Here’s the modifications that they’re proposing:
- Shortening the 2015 reporting period to 90 days to address provider concerns about their ability to fully deploy 2014 Edition software
- Realigning hospital reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other quality programs
- Modifying other aspects of the programs to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burden
They also added this interesting clarification and information about the meaningful use stage 3 proposed rule:
To clarify, we are working on multiple tracks right now to realign the program to reflect the progress toward program goals and be responsive to stakeholder input. Today’s announcement that we intend to pursue the changes to meaningful use beginning in 2015 through rulemaking, is separate from the forthcoming Stage 3 proposed rule that is expected to be released by early March. CMS intends to limit the scope of the Stage 3 proposed rule to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and subsequent years.
I think everyone will welcome a dramatic simplification of the meaningful use program. The above 3 changes will be welcome by everyone I know.
In the email announcement for this, they provided an explanation for why they’re doing these changes:
These proposed changes reflect the Department of Health and Human Services’ commitment to creating a health information technology infrastructure that:
- Elevates patient-centered care
- Improves health outcomes
- Supports the providers who care for patients
Personally, I think they saw the writing on the wall and it wasn’t pretty. Many organizations were going to opt out of meaningful use stage 2. These changes were needed and necessary for many organizations to continue participating in meaningful use. They believe meaningful use will elevate patient-centered care, improve health outcomes, and support the providers who care for patients. I’m glad they finally chose to start the rulemaking process to make the changes. I think many that started meaningful use can still benefit from the rest of the incentive money and will be even happier to avoid the penalties.