US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced final rules to help improve Americans’ health, increase safety, and reduce health care costs through expanded use of electronic health records (EHR).
The new CMS rule makes final a proposed rule issued on January 13, 2010. The final rule includes modifications that address stakeholder concerns while retaining the intent and structure of the incentive programs. In particular, while the proposed rule called on eligible professionals to meet 25 requirements (23 for hospitals) in their use of EHRs, the final rules divide the requirements into a “core” group of requirements that must be met, plus an additional “menu” of procedures from which providers may choose. This “two track” approach ensures that the most basic elements of meaningful EHR use will be met by all providers qualifying for incentive payments, while at the same time allowing latitude in other areas to reflect providers’ needs and their individual path to full EHR use.
“This is a turning point for electronic health records in America, and for improved quality and effectiveness in health care,” said David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for health information technology. “In delivering on the goals that Congress called for, we have sought to provide the leadership and coordination that are essential for a large, technology-based enterprise. At the same time, we have sought and received extensive input from the health care community, and we have drawn on their experience and wisdom to produce objectives that are both ambitious and achievable.”
Requirements for meaningful use incentive payments will be implemented over a multiyear period, phasing in additional requirements that will raise the bar for performance on IT and quality objectives in later years. The final CMS rule specifies initial criteria that eligible professionals (EPs) and eligible hospitals, including critical access hospitals (CAHs), must meet. The rule also includes the formula for the calculation of the incentive payment amounts; a schedule for payment adjustments under Medicare for covered professional services and inpatient hospital services provided by EPs, and eligible hospitals and CAHs that fail to demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology by 2015; and other program participation requirements.
A CMS/ONC fact sheet on the rules is available at http://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/
Technical fact sheets on CMS’s final rule are available at http://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/
A technical fact sheet on ONC’s standards and certification criteria final rule is available at http://healthit.hhs.gov/standardsandcertification.