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Does Meaningful Use affect your organization? New England HIMSS recently held a webinar discussing state, federal and congressional policies and initiatives impacting healthcare IT, which got us thinking about the newly released stage of Meaningful Use (MU). This blog discusses the new rules and requirements of Stage 3 and how it might impact your workplace.

President Obama signed the HITECH Act in 2009, which stated that every healthcare practitioner should start using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in order to deliver improved patient care. There are two stages already established in Meaningful Use and the third stage is currently underway. Stage 3, which was released just recently on March 20th, 2015, is intended to offer eligible professionals more flexibility beginning in 2017.

The purpose of the initial two stages was to motivate providers to utilize EHRs and subsequently start using them more efficiently and regularly, and it has worked. There has been a huge growth in the implementation of EHRs over the years. In 2008, only 17 percent of doctors in the United States and only 9 percent of hospitals in the United States were using an EHR. By 2013, more than 50 percent of physicians and more than 60 percent of hospitals in the United States were using EHRs.

The final stage includes the following specifications:

  • All eligible hospitals and healthcare professionals will have to meet to qualify for Medicaid EHR incentive payments, in order to avoid Medicare payment penalties starting in 2018.
  • Eligible professionals will need to report on Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program regardless of prior participation.
  • Healthcare providers should submit clinical quality measure data in 2017 (this will become mandatory in 2018).
  • Elimination of the current 90 day reporting period for eligible professionals in their first instance of Meaningful Use confirmation.
  • All eligible professionals will be required to meet two of the three options for establishing patient engagement:
    • Give patients access to their own records
    • Offer messaging solutions between patients and providers
    • Collect health data generated by patients

Requirements for many Stage 3 programs are:

  • 25% of patients must be engaged in secure messaging with a provider
  • 25% of patients must view or transmit data from their own records
  • 60% of lab and imaging orders must be sent electronically
  • 80% of prescriptions must be sent electronically
  • 15% of patients must generate health data using applications or mHealth devices

Stage 3 is intended to help simplify the Meaningful Use program, improve care by expanding health information exchange and offer more flexibility. If you work in the in healthcare IT or digital health field, these new rules may be in your favor. Stage 3 accommodates more customers and markets as providers try to combine and gather data from patients’ health wearable technologies (i.e. fitness bands, smartwatches). We’d love to hear what you think about Stage 3 of Meaningful Use. Do you think it will have a positive influence on the healthcare industry?

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