Professional organizations respond to MU Stage 3 final rule

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Medical associations have plenty to say in response to the release of the Meaningful Use Stage 3 final rule. Here's a round-up.

Steven J. Stack, MD, president of the American Medical Association: We are pleased that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordination (ONC) listened to the AMA and the concerns of physicians in several key areas in the modifications rule. In particular, the agency addressed the delay in issuing the modifications rule by allowing a hardship exemption for physicians who are unable to attest this year, providing needed relief for those uncertain about the 2015 program requirements. We also acknowledge that the agency is working to improve patient engagement by ensuring that patients can access portals while still providing flexibility in the measure requirements.

“The AMA continues to believe that Stage 3 requires significant changes to ensure successful participation, and improve the usability and interoperability of electronic health record systems. We urge CMS to use the additional public comment period provided for Stage 3 to further improve the program and consider changes related to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law earlier this year.  We also want to make sure that EHR vendors have the time they need to further test products for interoperability, usability, safety and security. We hope that health IT certification is nimble enough to accommodate future technology innovations and that the program not seen as final at this time.

The AMA recognizes that physicians continue to struggle with the Meaningful Use program, however, we hope the decision by CMS to leave Stage 3 open to additional comment will allow for further improvements in the program and promote technological innovation that supports patient care.


Carla Smith, MA, FHIMSS, CNM, executive vice president, HIMSS North America: IT is a critical tool enabling positive transformation, value-based care models, and the delivery of better care, improved outcomes and lower costs. In response to the new final regulations released today, HIMSS appreciates the continued efforts of CMS and ONC to simplify and provide flexibility for meeting the Meaningful Use program requirements. We support the confirmation of the 90-day reporting period for 2015. Further, we support the emphasis placed on January 1, 2018--the start of the period where providers are required to meet Stage 3 objectives and measures. 

Consistently, HIMSS has called for at least 18 months between the publication of a new Meaningful Use rule and the start of a new Stage’s reporting period—the 27 months provided in this final rule appears to address this issue. HIMSS encourages reasonable Meaningful Use-related rules and timelines, as these enable providers to continue their participation in the program, thus supporting a positively transformed health system. 
 

Charles E. Christian, Board of Trustees Chair, College of Health Information Management Executives: We are pleased that CMS today finalized modifications to the current stages of the Meaningful Use program and agreed to extend the comment period on Stage 3. CHIME and its 1,700-plus members agree with CMS that it is time to focus the Meaningful Use program on adoption of information technology systems that improve both the quality and safety of patient care.

The 752-page rule grants flexibility for providers who are doing their best to not only meet the intent of the federal program, but also ensure the adoption of health information technology that improves patient care.

Importantly, the rule adopts a 90-day reporting period for the current stages of the program, down from 365 days. CHIME has long called for a 90-day reporting period and applauds CMS for adopting this new standard. While several members are positioned to take advantage of this shorter period, others will be challenged to meet it since there are fewer than 90 days remaining in the year. We urge CMS to implement a hardship exemption for those unable to meet this timeframe.

CHIME also applauds the agency for modifying requirements surrounding patient access to electronic records. The rule stipulates that for 2015 and 2016, one patient discharged from a hospital view, download or transmit their electronic record.

With regard to Stage 3, the extra comment period will enable providers, CMS and other stakeholders to ensure that the next stage of Meaningful Use advances