Meaningful Use Stage 3 Is Coming: Here’s What It Means for Your Medical Practice


    The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Meaningful Use program has been almost synonymous with the adoption of electronic health records (EHR) systems in medical practices and hospitals across the country. At first, the program included attractive incentive payments for early adopters. Today, meaningful use attestation is used primarily to avoid penalties to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

    As 2019 approaches, so too does Meaningful Use Stage 3 (MU3), commonly known as Promoting Interoperability (PI). The goal of this aptly named stage of the program is to expand the interoperability of EHRs with one another so that providers at various points of care in the healthcare ecosystem are better able to communicate with one another about their patients.

    Promoting Interoperability begins on January 1, 2019. At that point, healthcare providers will have a 90-day window to complete the attestation process, proving that their use of EHRs meets the standards laid out in the program. Otherwise, practices will be subject to reimbursement penalties.

    “Eligible professionals (Eps) will receive a 4 percent physician fee schedule reduction regardless of if this is their first or fourth year not demonstrating meaningful use,” said Marylou Buyse, vice president of Integrated Health Solutions and Quality and Population Health Solutions at Precision For Value. “This applies to all EPs who are subject to MU3.”

    Bill Gillis, CIO of Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, said many providers are already engaged in preparations for attestation.

    “A lot more folks are ready for this now because program has been in effect for seven or eight years now,” Gillis said. “Everyone is tuned in to what it is and what is required.”

    Promoting Interoperability expands on previous interoperability requirements contained in Meaningful Use Stage 2, which Gillis said were minimal compared to the new components. The requirements under MU3 include expanded e-prescribing usage that includes controlled substances, closed-loop health information exchange with other healthcare providers, and patient access to their health records and information exchanged between providers.

    Ensuring these components are technically possible should be a big part of a medical practice’s EHR selection process. Interoperability varies from vendor to vendor; some software is more flexible than others, and some companies are more willing to extend APIs to third-parties more than others. Choosing the right vendor partner to boost interoperability is key, otherwise there is little your practice can do in its day-to-day operations to successfully attest to MU3.

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