Interoperability is focus of ‘Meaningful Use’ Stage 3 proposals

The federal government’s proposals for Stage 3 of the “meaningful use” criteria for electronic health records are intended to improve information-sharing by promoting interoperability among EHRs.

“[The] proposed rule will be an integral component in the shared nationwide effort to achieve an interoperable health system,” Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H, M.Sc., national coordinator for health IT, was quoted as saying. “The certification criteria we have proposed in the 2015 Edition will help achieve that vision through provisions that consider the range of health IT users and uses across the care continuum, including those focused on interoperable standards, data portability, improved transparency, privacy and security capabilities, and increased oversight through [the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s] Health IT Certification Program.”

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, doctors, healthcare professionals and hospitals can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments when they adopt and “meaningfully use” health IT technology certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, or ONC. Since the programs began in 2011, more than 433,000 eligible professionals and eligible hospitals have received an incentive payment, representing about 60 percent of eligible professionals in either the Medicare or Medicaid programs and about 95 percent of eligible hospitals, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Stage 3 proposed rule’s scope is generally limited to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and subsequent years. CMS is considering additional changes to meaningful use beginning in 2015 through separate rulemaking.