On August 23, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule, which specifies the requirements that hospitals and other providers must meet in order to receive funding under the second phase of the federal electronic health record (EHR) incentive program.
Under the Health Information for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, providers can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments when they adopt and use certified EHR technology. Stage 2 of the program "increases health information exchange between providers and promotes patient engagement by giving patients secure online access to their health information."
- Makes clear that Stage 2 of the program will begin as early as 2014. No providers will be required to follow the Stage 2 requirements outlined before 2014;
- Outlines the certification criteria for the certification of EHR technology, so eligible professionals and hospitals may be assured that the systems they use will work, helping them meaningfully use health information technology and qualify for incentive payments;
- Modifies the certification program to cut red tape and make the certification process more efficient; and
- Allows the current 2011 Edition Certified EHR Technology to be used until 2014.
The rule also allows for a flexible reporting period to give providers sufficient time to adopt or upgrade technology.