CMS Final Rule for Stage 2 Meaningful Use Released

August 31, 2012

CMS Final Rule for Stage 2 Meaningful Use Released

On August 23, 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued the final rules for Stage 2 of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. 

The CMS final rule contains modifications and clarifications to the Stage 1 program requirements and implements new Stage 2 requirements.  Additionally, the rule finalizes the core menu set of objectives and the clinical quality measures for the incentive program and defines Medicare's payment adjustments for eligible providers who fail to demonstrate meaningful use.  Further, the rule establishes the standards for Certified EHR Technology beginning in the 2014 EHR reporting period.

The rule now includes the viewing of medical images as an item in the U.S. government’s healthcare IT stimulus program.  CMS did adopt an optional significant hardship exemption for radiologists to avoid program penalties for a limited time.  However, it is in the best interest of eligible providers to comply with the EHR Incentive Program requirements and recieve the bonus payments for participation. 

Other key points include:

•Eligible professionals (EPs) who successfully attested in 2011 are given additional time to comply with the Stage 2 but must do so by 2014. 
•An imaging accessibility related menu set objective for referring physicians with an exclusion that can be invoked by radiologists.
• Computerized physician order entry requirements for referring physicians specific to radiology orders.
• Increased flexibility in the definition of the term “office visits” and increased use of that term for providing exclusions from specific MU objectives.
• Increased flexibility in the definition of “certified EHR technology” with an emphasis on specialty HIT products.
• Removal of the ONC’s proposal to require that certified EHR technology provides the ability to download images and transmit to a third party. However, it is proposed to indicate electronically the availability of images and/or narrative interpretations with links to these items. 

For more information on the final rule, please click here.