HHS announces second phase of EHR incentive program

The HHS announced Thursday the next steps that hospitals and other providers must meet to receive funding under the second phase of the federal electronic health-record incentive program.

They are:

•Make clear that stage two of the program will begin as early as 2014. No providers will be required to follow the stage 2 requirements outlined today before 2014.

•Outline the certification criteria for the certification of EHR technology, so eligible professionals and hospitals may be assured that the systems they use will work, help them meaningfully use health information technology, and qualify for incentive payments.

•Modify the certification program to cut red tape and make the certification process more efficient.

•Allow current “2011 Edition Certified EHR Technology” to be used until 2014.

The CMS final rule also provides a flexible reporting period for 2014 to give providers sufficient time to adopt or upgrade to the latest EHR technology certified for 2014.

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, doctors, health care professionals and hospitals can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments when they adopt and meaningfully use certified electronic health record technology.

More than 120,000 eligible health care professionals and more than 3,300 hospitals have qualified to participate in the program and receive an incentive payment since it began in January 2011. That exceeds a 100,000 goal set earlier this year.

Stage 3 will continue to expand meaningful use objectives to improve health care outcomes.

 “The changes we’re announcing today will lead to more coordination of patient care, reduced medical errors, elimination of duplicate screenings and tests and greater patient engagement in their own care,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a release.



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