CMS Seeks Comments for Stage 3 Meaningful Use

With stage 2 of the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program in full swing, federal regulators are actively seeking comments on clinical quality measures (CQMs) for the program’s third stage. The deadline for eligible professionals to submit their comments is November 25, 2013, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Although stage 3 of the meaningful use program does not begin until 2016, officials at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC)—the agency that developed the program—says it wants to get input early on to prevent the kinds of CQM errors included in the stage 2 final rule.

“Often feedback that arrives late is much harder to incorporate into the CQMs than input that arrives early,” writes Kevin Larsen on the ONC’s blog Health IT Buzz. “Towards that end, CMS and ONC have developed methods to obtain early and iterative feedback on draft MU3 measures currently under development, although the rule-making process has not concluded and there is no guarantee of inclusion of the changes in the final rule.”

While it’s too early to gauge the success of stage 2—attestation began for hospitals October 1 and won’t begin for physician practices until April 2014—a recent report published by healthcare IT consulting firm Anthelio found that community hospitals have made considerable progress in adopting electronic health records (EHRs).

For their “3rd Annual Community Hospital Survey,” Anthelio surveyed leaders from 135 community hospitals, drawing 123 replies. According to their results, the percentage of hospitals that have implemented and are operating EHRs increased to 40 percent in 2013, over 38 percent last year, and 23 percent the year before that. Nearly all of the other respondents have acquired and partially implemented an EHR.

Of the hospitals using an EHR, only 19 percent expected to recover more than 65 percent of their cost outlays through meaningful use incentive payments. Forty percent expected to regain more than 50 percent of their outlays, according to the report.

Click here to download a copy of the Anthelio report.


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