Healthcare News & Insights

Here’s some guidance on the changes to Stage 1 Meaningful Use

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued guidance on several changes to the stage 1 rules for meaningful use of EHRs, a few of which went into effect at the beginning of 2013. 

Some of the Stage 1 Meaningful Use changes give doctors and hospitals additional options for how they meet the requirements for receiving federal incentive payments for using EHRs. Other adjustments remove requirements and/or add new ones.

The changes effective now:

  • The objective mandating that providers electronically exchange key information will no longer be required, due to the challenges that doctors and hospitals have faced meeting the objective. This issue will instead be addressed in the Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements.
  • CMS has added an optional alternative measure to the computerized provider order entry (CPOE) objective for hospitals and eligible professionals (EPs). Providers can meet the objective if more than 30% of medication orders created during the EHR reporting period are recorded using CPOE.
  • EPs can be eligible for an exclusion from the electronic prescribing objective if they’re not located within 10 miles of a pharmacy that accepts electronic prescriptions. 
  • The measure for the objective requiring providers to record and chart changes in vital signs has been adjusted. The current measure specifies that vital signs must be recorded for more than 50% of patients ages 2 and over — however, the new measure amends that age limit to recording blood pressure for patients ages 3 and over and height and weight for patients of all ages. (Note: The change is optional this year, but will be mandatory starting in 2014.)

In addition, in 2014, CMS will replace three objectives related to patients’ electronic access to health information with two new objectives. These current objectives will be removed:

  • Core Objective for hospitals and EPs: Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information (including diagnostics test results, problem list, medication lists, medication allergies, discharge summary, procedures) upon request.
  • Core Objective for hospitals: Provide patients with an electronic copy of their discharge instructions at the time of discharge, upon request.
  • Menu Objective for EPs: Provide patients with timely electronic access to their health information (including lab results, problem list, medication lists, and allergies) within four business days of the information being available to the EP.

They’ll be replaced with these new objectives:

  • For EPs: Give more than 50% of all unique patients seen during the EHR reporting period the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within four business days of the information being available to the EP.
  • For hospitals: Give 50% of all patients who are discharged from the inpatient or emergency department the ability to view online, download and transmit information about a hospital admission within 36 hours of discharge.

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