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Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | February 9th, 2015

Today the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced their intent to engage in rulemaking to update the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs beginning in 2015. These intended changes are designed to reduce the reporting burden on providers, while supporting the long term goals of the program. Since the first year of the EHR Incentive Programs in 2011, the United States has seen unprecedented growth in the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs. To date, more than 400,000* eligible providers have joined the ranks of hospitals and professionals that have implemented or are meaningfully using EHRs. CMS stated that “millions of patients across the nation are benefiting from the potential of better coordinated care among professionals, more accurate prescribing, and improved communication”. The new rule, expected this spring, intends on being responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015. It also aims to propose changes reflective of developments in the industry and progress toward program goals achieved since the program began in 2011. The actual proposals they are considering are- “Realign hospital EHR reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other CMS quality programs. Modify other aspects of the program to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burdens. Shorten the EHR reporting period in 2015 to 90 days to accommodate these changes.” These changes reflect the Department of Health and Human Services’ stated commitment of creating a health information technology infrastructure that elevates patient-centered care, improves health outcomes and supports the providers who care for patients. We believe this 90 day window is a smart move and consistent with what has been done in the past. *Recently CMS announced that approximately 270,000 eligible providers will be penalized and approximately 30,000 received a hardship waiver in meeting Meaningful Use Stage 1.

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