The proposed rule for Meaningful Use Stage 3 was announced on Friday, March 20, 2015, and is now available for comment by stakeholders. CMS will rule on comments and the rule will probably be finalized early in the third quarter of this year. Then the ONC will prepare testing information by the late third quarter/fourth quarter and EHR vendors will start building the necessary modules.
Here are 5 things you need to know about the Stage 3 proposed rule; we will follow with additional blog posts giving you a deeper look at the changes, benefits and challenges.
- 2017 is now a Flex Year – Meaningful Use Stage 3 was originally slated to begin in 2017 for providers that had completed Stage 2; now 2017 is a flex year. This means that providers who would have progressed from Stage 2 to Stage 3 in 2017 now have the option to stay in Stage 2 an additional year. Only providers who use an EHR certified to the 2015 ONC standards will be allowed to attest to Stage 3.
- Every provider will be Meaningful Use Stage 3 in 2018 even if 2018 is the provider’s first reporting year – In order to simplify the Meaningful Use program, all providers will be in the same stage. This will allow group practices to focus on a single set of measures for all providers.
- Meaningful Use Stage 3 is the final stage of Meaningful Use – However, CMS is clear that because they expect technology and care standards to evolve over time they will consider (and we expect) that there will be future rulemaking related to Meaningful Use Stage 3 somewhere down the line.
- All providers will report for one calendar year – in an effort to continue to align Meaningful Use with other government reporting programs such as PQRS, all providers will report for a full year based on the calendar with one exception. Medicaid first year providers will still be allowed to report for based on a 90-day period measurement period. In the past CMS has shortened measurement periods based on provider feedback and we expect that to be true about this year. This year (2015) was slated to be a full year for most providers but we expect it to be scaled back to a quarterly measurement period because of the continued side effects of the poor implementation of Stage 2 last year. For 2017 and beyond we expect the implementation will be smoother and we don’t foresee more flexibility on measurement periods beginning next year.
- There are 8 objectives and some objectives have more than one measure – the total number of measures that providers will be required to report is 16.
For an overview of the Meaningful Use Stage 3 Proposed Rule and its impact on practices, join us for a webinar on April 28: Meaningful Use Stage 3: What the Future Holds.