Meaningful Use Extension: What Does It Mean for Me?
Those elbow or neck deep in the implementation of an EHR would definitely never miss this BIG news announcement that came out last Friday. The Meaningful Use Stage 2 deadline has been pushed back one year. As one may expect, the Stage 3 dealine is also being pushed back as a result.
Here’s how Robert Tagalicod, Director, Office of E-Health Standards and Services, CMS and Jacob Reider, MD, Acting National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, ONC described the change in meaningful use timeline:
“Under the revised timeline, Stage 2 will be extended through 2016 and Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for those providers that have completed at least two years in Stage 2. The goal of this change is two-fold: first, to allow CMS and ONC to focus efforts on the successful implementation of the enhanced patient engagement, interoperability and health information exchange requirements in Stage 2; and second, to utilize data from Stage 2 participation to inform policy decisions for Stage 3.
The phased approach to program participation helps providers move from creating information in Stage 1, to exchanging health information in Stage 2, to focusing on improved outcomes in Stage 3. This approach has allowed us to support an aggressive yet smart transition for providers.”
What does this mean for me?
It seems the pushback on the timeline for stage 2 and 3 is being received with open arms. CHIME, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives called for a 1 year extension back in May of 2013. With the rigors of ICD-10 and MU, they felt it gave more healthcare organizations time to comply. The extra year will give providers the opportunity to optimize their HER technology and achieve the benefits of Stage 1 and Stage 2. Interestingly enough, the impact on MU in 2014 is very little. This announcement from CMS does not impact the 2014 requirements for participating in Meaningful Use to avoid payment penalties in 2015. Medicare providers who have already attested for Meaningful Use Stage 1 should continue participating to avoid future penalties. If 2014 is your third or fourth year, you will still be expected to start Stage 2 requirements in 2014. If you haven’t started but plan to in 2014, October 1, 2014 is still the attestation deadline for avoiding the 2015 payment penalty.
Stage 3 will now begin in January 2017 for eligible professionals (EPs) and October 2016 for eligible hospitals (EHs) and critical access hospitals (CAHs). A similar change occurred when Stage 1 was extended through 2013, and many expected this change to happen with Stage 2 as well.
To recap, this change only affects 2016 Meaningful Use requirements and the 2014 plans will not be affected. Make sure you are prepared to meet your 2014 Meaningful Use criteria regardless of where you are in the Meaningful Use program.
Unsure? Need Help?
If you are not sure if you are ready to meet all the requirements, or just want a second opinion at where you stand, Medical Management Services team of professionals are ready and willing to help you out. Contact us with your questions or concerns and we can help you and make sure you have all your ducks lined up and that you are ready for all the deadlines that are to come.