Final Meaningful Use Rules


For those who have struggled with Meaningful Use, the most welcome 12 words among the 301 pages of the just-released Notice of Public Rule Making for Stage 3 may be these: “Stage 3 of Meaningful Use is expected to be the final stage.”

Since its inception in 2009, more than $25 billion has been distributed in an effort to persuade providers to digitize medical records. The carrot-and-stick nature of the program did succeed in increasing the use of electronic health/medical records from single digits to upwards of 80 percent nationwide.

During the heyday of Stage 1, more than 800 EHR companies vied for federal incentives as technology vendors and providers struggled with new demands of “checkbox-like” requirements, technical training of staff, and extensive reports.

Stage 2, launched in 2014, piled on additional requirements and challenged vendors with increased re-certification demands and practices with more rigorous reporting.

With this background, the announcement of Stage 3 was understandably anticipated with trepidation. Fortunately, this recent notice appears to be relatively modest in additional requirements to practices. Interoperability and patient engagement appear to be the main priorities.

Key elements include the following:

  • Electronic prescribing thresholds will increase to 80 percent for eligible providers and 25 percent for eligible hospitals. Controlled substance prescriptions can now be optionally included in states, such as ­Massachusetts, where it is ­allowed electronically.
  • Physician order entry will be computerized on at least 80 percent of medication orders, 60 percent of lab orders, and 60 percent of diagnostic imaging orders.
  • More than 80 percent of patients must be able to access their records and 35 percent of patients must have access to patient-specific educational resources.
  • At least 25 percent of patients must access their records, and 35 percent of them must receive a clinically relevant secure message.

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