In a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS) and 15 other healthcare organizations issued an immediate call to action to adjust the 2015 EHR reporting period to help hundreds of thousands of providers meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements in an effective and safe manner.
Responding to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ (CMS) final rule on meaningful use flexibility, the letter states the agency’s decision to require a full-year of reporting using 2014 Edition certified EHR technology (CEHRT) in 2015 puts many eligible hospitals and physicians at risk of not meeting Meaningful Use next year and hinders the forward trajectory of the program.
“We implore you to take immediate action by shortening the 2015 EHR reporting period to 90 days and by adding flexibility in how providers meet the Stage 2 requirements,” the letter states. “The additional time and flexibility afforded by these modifications will help hundreds of thousands of providers meet Stage 2 requirements in an effective and safe manner. This will reinforce investments made to date and it will ensure continued momentum towards the goals of Stage 3, including enhanced care coordination and interoperability.”
While the final rule does provide flexibility in meeting MU requirements for 2014, most hospitals who take advantage of the new pathways will not be in a position to meet Stage 2 requirements beginning October 1, 2014 (FY 2015).
“With just two weeks to go before the start of Fiscal Year 2015, immediate attention to this requirement is essential,” said CHIME president and CEO Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO. “There are thousands of hospitals right now desperately trying to determine how to appropriately install and configure software for Stage 2, and how to start collecting data by the end of this month.”
The letter outlines that to date that only 143 hospitals have met Stage 2, representing a very small percentage of the 3,800 hospitals required to be Stage 2-ready within the next 14 days.
“This additional time is vitally important to ensure that hospitals and physicians continue moving forward with technology to improve patient care,” the letter states. “By making such changes, HHS would improve patient safety, without compromising momentum towards interoperability and care coordination supported by health IT.”
By adjusting the timeline, providers would have the option to choose any three-month quarter for an EHR reporting period in 2015 to qualify for meaningful use.
“This sensible change to the 2015 reporting period, from 365 days to 90, will ensure broad program participation and will enable providers to continue their meaningful use journey,” said CHIME board chair Randy McCleese FCHIME, LCHIME, CHCIO, vice president of information services and CIO at Morehead, Kentucky-based St. Claire Regional Medical Center. “Carrying forward the 2014 policy requiring providers submit data covering one quarter of their choosing in 2015 is the right decision, and it is our hope that officials act quickly.”
CHIME leaders will reiterate this call to action as they meet with officials this week as part of National Health IT Week in Washington, D.C.