For the second time this year, the federal government is pushing back a major health information technology initiative, potentially giving early adopters of electronic health records an extra year to meet more stringent meaningful-use requirements.
The CMS and HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology issued a proposed rule last week that would give hospitals, office-based physicians and other professionals eligible for the EHR incentive program an additional year to use 2011 Edition software for their systems and continue to meet Stage 1 criteria for meaningful use of the technology.
The proposed rule means providers that entered the program in 2011 could have as many as four years using 2011 software at Stage 1 meaningful use.
The rule also would make official a previously announced delay until 2017 for the start date of what is likely to be the even more difficult Stage 3 meaningful-use requirements now under development.
The new rule comes less than two months after Congress, responding to pressure from physicians and other groups, postponed the nationwide switch to the ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural coding system until Oct. 1, 2015.
Going into 2014, ICD-10 and Stage 2 deadlines were ranked as the two biggest HIT headaches for industry leaders, according to Modern Healthcare's annual IT readers' survey. Now, both have been eased.