CMS relaxes EHR meaningful use rules

A new rule published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on August 29 gives healthcare providers more flexibility in how they use electronic health record (EHR) technology to meet meaningful use standards in 2014.

The rule change will allow more providers to participate and meet meaningful use objectives, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Based on discussions with stakeholders, there is overwhelming support for the change, CMS said.

Eligible providers can now use 2011 edition certified EHR technology (CEHRT) or a combination of 2011 and 2014 edition CEHRT for an EHR reporting period in 2014, CMS said. However, all eligible professionals, hospitals, and critical access hospitals will be required to use the 2014 edition CEHRT in 2015.

The rule also finalizes the extension of stage 2 meaningful use through 2016 for certain providers and announces the stage 3 timeline, which begins in 2017 for providers who first became meaningful EHR users in 2011 or 2012.

An updated meaningful use timeline is available on CMS' website.

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