MU 3 is out: 5 reactions from industry leaders

CMS released the final rules for meaningful use stage 3 and the modification rules for 2015-2017 Tuesday.

Key provisions in the final rule include a 90-day reporting period in 2015 and for new participants in 2016 and 2017. Additionally, stage 3 will become mandatory in 2018, though providers can elect to begin attesting to stage 3 in 2017.

CMS has opened a 60-day comment period on the final rule.

Here, five industry leaders react to the final rules.

Charles Christian, Board Chairman, CHIME: "The 752-page rule grants flexibility for providers who are doing their best to not only meet the intent of the federal program, but also ensure the adoption of health information technology that improves patient care.

"Importantly, the rule adopts a 90-day reporting period for the current stages of the program, down from 365 days. CHIME has long called for a 90-day reporting period and applauds CMS for adopting this new standard. While several members are positioned to take advantage of this shorter period, others will be challenged to meet it since there are fewer than 90 days remaining in the year. We urge CMS to implement a hardship exemption for those unable to meet this timeframe.

"CHIME also applauds the agency for modifying requirements surrounding patient access to electronic records. The rule stipulates that for 2015 and 2016, one patient discharged from a hospital view, download or transmit their electronic record.

"With regard to stage 3, the extra comment period will enable providers, CMS and other stakeholders to ensure that the next stage of meaningful use advances interoperability and takes into account new payment models being advanced by Medicare."

Carla Smith, Executive Vice President, HIMSS North America: "HIMSS appreciates the continued efforts of CMS and ONC to simplify and provide flexibility for meeting the meaningful use program requirements. We support the confirmation of the 90-day reporting period for 2015. Further, we support the emphasis placed on Jan. 1, 2018 — the start of the period where providers are required to meet stage 3 objectives and measures.

"Consistently, HIMSS has called for at least 18 months between the publication of a new meaningful use rule and the start of a new stage's reporting period — the 27 months provided in this final rule appears to address this issue. HIMSS encourages reasonable meaningful use-related rules and timelines, as these enable providers to continue their participation in the program, thus supporting a positively transformed health system."

Steven Stack, MD, President, American Medical Association: "We are pleased that CMS and the ONC listened to the AMA and the concerns of physicians in several key areas in the modifications rule. In particular, the agency addressed the delay in issuing the modifications rule by allowing a hardship exemption for physicians who are unable to attest this year, providing needed relief for those uncertain about the 2015 program requirements. We also acknowledge that the agency is working to improve patient engagement by ensuring that patients can access portals while still providing flexibility in the measure requirements.

"The AMA continues to believe that stage 3 requires significant changes to ensure successful participation, and improve the usability and interoperability of electronic health record systems. We urge CMS to use the additional public comment period provided for stage 3 to further improve the program and consider changes related to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law earlier this year. We also want to make sure that EHR vendors have the time they need to further test products for interoperability, usability, safety and security. We hope that health IT certification is nimble enough to accommodate future technology innovations and that the program not seen as final at this time."

Dan Haley, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, athenahealth (on Twitter): "After so many delays, modifications, safe harbors, and dilutions, is there any basis left for taking an #MU 'deadline' seriously?"

Rick Pollack, President and CEO, American Hospital Association: "Today's release of the meaningful use rules is a mixed bag for hospitals and health systems and the patients they serve. We are pleased that CMS released the long-awaited modifications rule, which will allow hospitals a 90-day reporting period in 2015 along with other flexibilities in response to AHA concerns. Hospitals will finally have the clarity they need to take steps to ensure they meet the revised requirements.

"However, the simultaneous release of the final rule implementing stage 3, which will be required beginning Jan. 1, 2018, is deeply disappointing. Despite the urging of hospitals, physicians and Congress, the stage 3 final rule includes many new and more challenging requirements. More than 60 percent of hospitals and about 90 percent of physicians have yet to attest to stage 2. The stage 3 rule is too much too soon."

More articles on meaningful use:

[Opinion] Don't worry about delaying MU, just cancel it altogether
To reach MU2, some vendors perform better than others
25 quotes that show just how fed up physicians are with EHRs

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