A proposed final rule for Stage 3 of the electronic health-record meaningful-use program is expected as soon as Wednesday, an HHS official told Modern Healthcare.
Among other provisions, it will streamline the number of measures providers are expected to track, and “de-couple” the meaningful-use program from the certification program.
The streamlining is expected to occur through consolidating the number of metrics providers are expected to track.
Some stakeholder organizations, such as the American Medical Association, have requested de-coupling the two programs. In essence, it allows the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to continue publishing its rules for EHR certification—which subject software to testing to ensure the software can do what the vendor says it can do—separate from the rules for meaningful use.
Jeff Smith, vice president for public policy at College of Healthcare Information Management Executives who has not seen the new rule, said he believes that de-coupling will allow the agency to certify software that has functionalities unrelated to meaningful use: for example, for behavioral health, which isn't covered by the program.
An ONC spokesman declined to comment.
The meaningful-use program was established by the 2009 stimulus law. It gives money to providers and hospitals to encourage them to adopt EHRs. To ensure that providers and hospitals simply didn't do the minimum, it included requirements that encouraged more features and more usage. Such usage took the form of "stages," which imposed more requirements in terms of functionality.
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