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CMS Announces Stage 3 Meaningful Use Proposed Rule

By: Kathy Claytor | April 2nd, 2015

CMS Announces Stage 3 Meaningful Use Proposed Rule Blog Feature
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Providers as well as health care organizations have eagerly waited for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reveal the stage 3 requirements for meaningful use under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. On March 20, the organization finally released the proposed rule for stage 3.

The proposed rule was outlined in a document that summarized the stage 3 requirements. As it stated, this phase of meaningful use would continue to be a priority in 2017, and the clinical quality requirements proposed would have a feasible goal of 2018.

"The CMS intends to turn meaningful use into one, streamlined stage."

Simplifying meaningful use
The CMS also revealed in the proposed rule that it intends to develop a platform that will help eventually turn the meaningful use program into a single, streamlined stage. In doing so, it will still maintain the goals of enhancing interoperability, increasing care quality and reducing costs, as U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell explained in a press statement.

"The flow of information is fundamental to achieving a health system that delivers better care, smarter spending and healthier people," Burwell​ said. "The steps we are taking today will help to create more transparency on cost and quality information, bring electronic health information to inform care and decision making, and support population health."

The effort to simplify the program addressed some of the major complaints surrounding meaningful use. Many providers feel that the program is too complex, particularly when it comes to stage 3. After all, as the CMS stated, the new requirements have been designed to help physicians make better clinical decisions and may allow practices to move between fee-for-service and value-based models. 

Aligning with interoperability efforts
While developing the stage 3 meaningful use proposed rule, the CMS took into consideration the growing importance of interoperability. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology developed an interoperability roadmap that outlines the major goals for data sharing across the nation's health care system.

The stage 3 <a  data-cke-saved-href=The stage 3 meaningful use proposed rule aligns with national goals to improve data sharing for enhanced interoperability.

As Dr. Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health IT, explained in a press statement, the proposed rule is intended to be an "integral component" of such national efforts to enhance interoperability.

"The certification criteria we have proposed in the 2015 Edition will help achieve that vision through provisions that consider the range of health IT users and uses across the care continuum, including those focused on interoperable standards, data portability, improved transparency, privacy and security capabilities, and increased oversight through ONC's Health IT Certification Program," DeSalvo explained.

With that in mind, practices should continue to strive for meaningful use compliance and get ready for stage 3 requirements to be finalized. While the proposed rule was expected to be formally published on March 30, the comment period is extended to May 29. Providers can air their opinions and suggest improvements to the program. The CMS will review comments through June 30, when it will propose the certification criteria for stage 3 meaningful use.