Electronic Health Records

Integration & Interoperability News

New Measures Under Stage 3 Meaningful Use Requirements

By Vera Gruessner

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have prioritized that all eligible professionals will need to meet Stage 3 meaningful use requirements under the proposed rule by 2018. Along with this determination, providers will also be able to file hardship exemptions if meeting this goal is unsustainable for their practice.

The established payment reductions for not meeting meaningful use requirements haven’t been modified. Along with the announcement about the eight objectives under the Stage 3 Meaningful Use proposed rule, the federal agencies also disclosed the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria, according to the Journal of AHIMA.

While the Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements called for ensuring 5 percent of patients used portals to view, download, and share health records, the Stage 3 Meaningful Use proposed rule asks providers to engage 25 percent of their patients in accessing this medical information.

This also includes having 25 percent of patients use secure messaging tools to speak with their physicians. The proposed rule recommends providers to use a third-party interface when collecting this data.

Many stakeholders are encouraging further revisions in one area of Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements. The full calendar year EHR reporting period is posing undue burden on healthcare facilities and many are urging the inclusion of a 90-day EHR reporting period instead.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article included inaccurate information on patient demographic requirements.

Another new measure under the Stage 3 proposed rule includes a recommended menu item that states eligible hospitals and providers will need to receive electronic patient-generated medical information through either questionnaires/surveys or secure messaging systems. Patient-generated data through mobile technologies will also count toward this requirement.

Another interesting objective within the proposed rule asks for hospitals to send electronic notifications to a patient’s care team – especially primary care providers – about any important healthcare occurrences. While many of the proposed measures may be challenging to achieve across the healthcare sector, the overall goals of the EHR Incentive Programs is to establish health information exchange and improve interoperability.

“ONC’s proposed rule will be an integral component in the shared nationwide effort to achieve an interoperable health system,” Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H, M.Sc., national coordinator for health IT, said in a public statement. “The certification criteria we have proposed in the 2015 Edition will help achieve that vision through provisions that consider the range of health IT users and uses across the care continuum, including those focused on interoperable standards, data portability, improved transparency, privacy and security capabilities, and increased oversight through ONC’s Health IT Certification Program.”


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