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CMS May Alter Meaningful Use Rules for Electronic Records

By Kerry Young, CQ Roll Call

January 29, 2015—The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has said it plans to consider changes to the meaningful use requirements for electronic health records through the rulemaking process.

"These intended changes would help to reduce the reporting burden on providers" and support the long term goals of the ongoing federal effort to shift providers away from paper records, said Patrick Conway, chief medical officer and deputy administrator for innovation and quality at CMS, in a blog posting.

A new rule, expected this spring, is intended to respond to concerns from doctors and health workers about the implementation of software and information exchange readiness. These changes also will reflect developments in the electronic-health-records industry.

CMS is considering proposals to realign hospitals' electronic health record reporting periods to the calendar year to allow more time to incorporate 2014 edition software into workflows, and to shorten the reporting period in 2015 to 90 days. 

Conway said the agency is "working on multiple tracks now to realign the program to reflect the progress toward program goals and be responsive to stakeholder input."

The United States has seen "unprecedented growth" in the adoption of electronic health records since starting the federal incentive program for them in 2011, Conway said. "To date, more than 400,000 eligible providers have joined the ranks of hospitals and professionals that have adopted or are meaningfully using EHRs," he wrote, adding that this means that "millions of patients" are getting more coordinated care.

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