The rules for Stage 3 meaningful use, and the potential modifications to Stage 2, moved one step closer to finalization last week when The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) handed them off to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on September 3rd.
One significant change in this final rule would be the reduction of the 2015 reporting period of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program, from a full year to a 90-day period aligned with the calendar year. With the October 3rd deadline for the final 90-day reporting period in 2015 fast approaching, the certainty of a final rule is in high demand by healthcare providers and EHR vendors alike.
But from the patient perspective, there is another reason for urgency around finalization: Engagement will go up when patient’s can access their health information in the application of their choosing. The sooner that secure, ONC-certified application program interfaces (APIs) are required as part of Meaningful Use, the easier it will be for patients to have comprehensive access to their own health records. And as we move towards value-based care, patient engagement only becomes more important.
Just recently, the Assistant Secretary for Health, National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo remarked that in hindsight, common interoperability standards are overdue. “We’re moving toward that with the industry, but I think what that’s created is a complexity and aggregation of data” said DeSalvo. “In hindsight, maybe some more standardization, or a lot more,” was necessary.
We view API standardization and the interoperability that will ensue as a unique opportunity to improve the patient experience. And better-informed providers will lead to better care coordination overall.
If Stage 3 Meaningful Use includes a well-considered mandate for interoperability, then for cancer patients and those involved in their care, the move towards finalization is good news.
There is no guidance yet on when the final rule will be published. Stay tuned…