The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that Stage 2 of meaningful use will be extended through 2016, and Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for providers who have completed at least two years in Stage 2, in what is an incredibly significant reverse of position from the agency.
In a CMS statement, Robert Tagalicod, director, Office of E-Health Standards and Services, CMS, and Jacob Reider, M.D., acting national coordinator for health information technology for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), said 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," read the CMS statement.
This new proposed timeline tracks ongoing conversations CMS and ONC have had with providers, consumers, healthcare associations, EHR developers, and other stakeholders in the healthcare industry. This timeline allows for enhanced program analysis of Stage 2 data to inform to the improvements in care delivery outcomes in Stage 3, according to the CMS statement.
Despite many associations pushing for a Stage 2 extension, as recently as two weeks ago at the American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium (AIMA), ONC leaders said changes to Stage 2 of meaningful use would be unlikely.
At that time, Jodi Daniel, ONC’s director of the office of policy planning, said, “We have heard from stakeholders about concerns, and we are looking at timelines. I don’t have magic dice to talk about chances of anything. “She added that any change would be up to CMS, not ONC, and for CMS to change the timeline would require a regulatory change.
Healthcare Informatics will keep you updated as more details from this story emerge.