Written by Taylor Mockler

Last week, the financial importance of successfully attesting to Meaningful Use was discussed. The first part of our Meaningful Use article series will include an overview of Stage 1 and Stage 2, seven of the biggest changes to Stage 2 as stated by the Final Rule, and some important dates to keep in mind when attesting.

Stage 1

Stage 1 established requirements for collecting clinical data in an electronic format, which included patients having the ability to access electronic copies of their health information.

Stage 2

Stage 2 embellished upon Stage 1 requirements by ensuring EHRs were of higher caliber and health IT was used to improve patient care continuously and exchange information in a structured way. However, many providers struggled to meet the many ambitious measures in such a short time frame. On October 6, 2015, CMS made several changes to Stage 2 in a “final rule” that focused on streamlining the requirements and allowing more time for providers to attest.

7 Biggest Changes to Stage 2 Due to the Final Rule:

  1. Stage 1 no longer exists. All providers now belong to Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. Providers that were previously in Stage 1 are now in “Modified Stage 2.”
  2. All providers attested for a 90-day period in 2015, compared to a the 365-day reporting period in 2014.
  3. There is now a single set of 10 objectives and measures Eligible Providers must meet, replacing the previous core and menu measures structure. Eligible Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals have 9 objectives and measures.
  4. Stage 2 measures that focused on patient engagement were modified to make attestation more feasible.
  5. The following data-entry measures were removed: record vital signs, record smoking status, record demographics, clinical summaries, structured lab results, patient lists, patient reminders, electronic notes, imaging results, and family history.
  6. Health Care Organizations (HCOs) can only use EHRs that are certified with the Office of National Coordinator of Health IT demonstrating that they have the capabilities to attest for State 2 Meaningful Use requirements.

Important Dates

CMS’s latest deadlines for EHR Reporting Periods and Attestation in 2016 follow:

  • Eligible Providers (EPs), Eligible Hospitals (EHs), and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) that are already participating in the program will demonstrate a full calendar year EHR reporting period from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016.
  • EPs, EHs, and CAHs that have NOT yet participated in the program will demonstrate a  90 dayreporting period from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016.
  • New attestation deadline for Meaningful Use and PQRS was March 11, 2016 (pushed back from February 29, 2016) to give practices reporting in 2015 more time to attest.
  • The Meaningful Use hardship exception process application deadline has been extended to July 1, 2016 for EPs, EHs, and CAHs to give them more time and avoid the payment change in 2017.
  • Stage 3 is optional in 2017 and required in 2018, regardless of prior participation.

Understanding the new objectives and measures for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use is crucial to ensuring successful attestation. In part two of this Meaningful Use series, a comprehensive, yet user-friendly guide of these objectives and measures will be illustrated for both eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals.

View the complete Meaningful Use series here:

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