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Extension of Reporting Period for Stage 2 Meaningful Use

After an ONC representative indicated that changes were unlikely for the EHR Incentive Program (aka Meaningful Use timeline), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) posted an announcement on Friday afternoon (12/6). Robert Tagalicod (Office of E-Health Standards & Services at CMS) and Jacob Reider (Acting National Coordinator for Health IT at ONC) co-authored a post entitled, “Progress on Adoption of Electronic Health Records.”

Here’s the key statement from the post:

“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.”

Based on this change, eligible professionals (EPs) who completed two years of Stage 2 would have to begin Stage 3 in 2017. Also described is the expected release of the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for Stage 3 Meaningful Use in the fall of 2014 with the final rule expected in the first half of 2015. There is also a description of the 2015 EHR certification process which states that, “the 2015 Edition would be voluntary in the sense that providers participating in the EHR Incentive Programs would NOT have to upgrade to 2015 Edition EHR technology and NO EHR technology developer who has certified its EHR technology to the 2014 Edition would need to recertify its products.”

More details are likely to come – but for now, this represents a significant change from only a few weeks ago when it seemed no adjustments were forthcoming.

What do you think about the extension of Stage 2 and delay of Stage 3? Will this additional time be welcomed by practices planning to participate in MU Stage 2? Will there be enough time to learn from the experiences of Stage 2 before the Stage 3 NPRM is released the fall of 2014?

This story was covered in several places. Here is a sampling: FierceHealthIT; Medical Practice Insider; Government HealthIT

Note – the first line of this post was updated 7:50pm ET (12/9) to more accurately reflect the comments by ONC regarding Stage 2 changes (MSB).

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