Certain objectives and measures that could be reported via paper-based methods in Stages 1 and 2 of the electronic health records meaningful use program are phased out in the proposed Stage 3 rule released for review on March 20.
Under the first two stages, providers would print, fax, mail or otherwise produce a paper document and manually count these actions to include in the measure calculation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explains in the proposed rule.
Examples include provision of a non-electronic summary of care document for a transition of care or referral, and paper-based patient education materials.
Now, CMS wants to discontinue this policy in Stage 3. We recognize the strides that providers have made in the use of CEHRT (certified EHRs) and as we move forward in MU, it is appropriate to remove the earlier iterations of objectives and measures that were designed to support beginning EHR use and instead focus on objectives that are based solely on electronic use of data, according to the rule. This does not imply that we do not support the continued use of paper-based materials in a practice setting. Some patients may prefer to receive a paper version of their clinical summary or may want to receive education items or reminders on paper or some other method that is not electronic.
Consequently, CMS recommends providers to continue to provide relevant information to patients in the format that the patient desires. We are simply proposing that paper-based formats would not be required or allowed for the purposes of the objectives and measures for Stage 3 of meaningful use.
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