The proposed Stage 3 meaningful use rule has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget and will be posted in the Federal Register once OMB completes their review, according to a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The rule, which focuses on improving healthcare outcomes and advancing interoperability, establishes policies for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs and specifies applicable criteria for demonstrating Stage 3 MU, which will not begin until 2017.

“We are proposing the Stage 3 criteria that EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs must meet in order to successfully demonstrate meaningful use under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, focusing on advanced use of EHR technology to promote improved outcomes for patients,” states the Department of Health and Human Services in their submission to OMB. “Stage 3 will also propose changes to the reporting period, timelines, and structure of the program, including providing a single definition of meaningful use. These changes will provide a flexible, yet, clearer framework to ensure future sustainability of the EHR program and reduce confusion stemming from multiple stage requirements.”

HHS adds that it is working with CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to “ensure that the Stage 3 meaningful use definition coordinates with the standards and certification requirements being proposed and that there is sufficient time to upgrade and implement these changes.”

In March 2014, the Health IT Policy Committee approved scaled-down recommendations to HHS on criteria for Stage 3, which included 19 objectives for providers to comply with compared with 26 in an earlier version. The Policy Committee’s aim was to tighten the focus of Stage 3, reduce the burden on providers and rely on available and mature standards. However, in May 2014 listening sessions held by a HITPC workgroup, stakeholders argued that the scope of Stage 3 recommendations was still too broad and further narrowing was needed by CMS and ONC in writing the proposed rule.

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