Governance, Risk & Compliance

Governance, Risk & Compliance

April 02, 2012

CMS Works with Professionals, the Public to Address 'Meaningful Use' Concerns

Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) Meaningful Use is a set of proposed rules dictating the need for medical providers to show that they are using certified electronic health record (EHR) software while defining the manner in which electronic health records are shared and used.

Stage 1 of Meaningful Use defined the basic criteria for electronic data capture and sharing. Stage 2 requirements — released on Feb. 23, 2012, and expected to be implemented in 2013 — include criteria eligible professionals and hospitals are required to meet in order to qualify for a planned incentive payment aimed at those who adopt electronic medical records and display "meaningful use" of those records.

In other words, medical professionals, hospitals and clinics need to demonstrate they're using certified EHR technology —such as Dragon Medical Practice Edition or OpenEMR — in ways that can be tangibly measured for quality and quantity.

The response from the healthcare industry on the two proposed rules has been mixed, with many hospital executives, physicians and EHR vendors pointing out many areas requiring further revision, or at least discussion. One area of concern lies in the Stage 2 proposed rule's objectives, which encourage eligible providers to meet certain thresholds in electronic data transfer. This objective, meant to encourage data exchanges across vendors, hospitals and health systems, has concerned some medical professionals who feel it is too vague.

Another issue for professionals addresses an aspect of Stage 2, in regard to providing patients with greater access to their electronic medical information. CMS provides incentives for providers that encourage patients to access their electronic health information, with the goal of greater patient-specific medical education resources. The concern with this lies with the challenges presented to providers who have not had to provide the service previously.

As of March 7, CMS began to accept public comments on the proposed Stage 2 rule, with the aim of improving areas of concern before the rule takes effect.

Edited by Braden Becker

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