On September 4, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) jointly finalized rules relaxing certain deadlines for meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) and implementation of certified EHR technology (CEHRT).
This rulemaking finalizes a proposal earlier this year, which we described in an earlier post, and includes changes in two EHR areas.
First, CMS and ONC delay the Stage 3 meaningful use deadline from 2016 to 2017 for providers and hospital that first became meaningful users in 2011 or 2012. See 79 Fed. Reg. 52910, 52926-27 (Sept. 4, 2014).
Second, CMS and ONC provide flexibility to EHR users facing challenges implementing 2014 Edition CEHRT. Providers and hospitals were originally expected to use EHR technology that complied with the 2014 Edition certification criteria starting in the 2014 reporting year in order to achieve meaningful use. However, this rulemaking relaxes that requirement.
If a provider or hospital attests that it is unable to implement 2014 Edition CEHRT “due to delays in 2014 Edition certified EHR technology availability,” it will be allowed to instead use 2011 Edition CEHRT, or some combination of 2011 Edition CEHRT and 2014 Edition CEHRT, for the 2014 reporting year. If the provider or hospital chooses to use 2011 Edition CEHRT only, it will be expected to satisfy the meaningful use Stage 1 criteria that were applicable for 2013. If the provider or hospital uses a combination of 2011 Edition CEHRT and 2014 Edition CEHRT, it can choose to satisfy the 2013 Stage 1 criteria; the 2014 Stage 1 criteria; or the Stage 2 criteria, if the user is scheduled to begin implementing Stage 2 in 2014. See 42 C.F.R. § 495.6(a)(4), (b)(4); see also 42 C.F.R. § 495.8(a)(2)(i)(D), (b)(2)(i)(D); 45 C.F.R. § 170.102 (definition of “Certified EHR Technology”). In addition, providers and hospitals “unable to fully implement all the functions of 2014 Edition [CEHRT] required for . . . the Stage 2 criteria due to delays in availability” may instead satisfy the 2014 Stage 1 criteria using 2014 Edition CEHRT. § 495.6 (h)(3), (i)(3).