Meaningful Use: A Comprehensive Guide – Part I: Stage 1 and 2 Overview, Stage 2 Final Rule Major Changes, and Important Dates

UPDATED 6/6/2016: Per recently proposed MACRA rules, this article was updated and a Part 4: Meaningful Use and MACRA was added. While modified Stage 2 Meaningful Use remains unchanged, we think it’s important to take MACRA into consideration.

Last week, the financial importance of successfully attesting to Meaningful Use was discussed. The first part of our Meaningful Use article series will include an overview of Stage 1 and Stage 2, seven of the biggest changes to Stage 2 as stated by the Final Rule, and some important dates to keep in mind when attesting.

It is essential for eligible providers and hospitals to understand Meaningful Use important changes and upcoming dates.

Stage 1

Stage 1 established requirements for collecting clinical data in an electronic format, which included patients having the ability to access electronic copies of their health information.

Stage 2

Stage 2 embellished upon Stage 1 requirements by ensuring EHRs were of higher caliber and health IT was used to improve patient care continuously and exchange information in a structured way. However, many providers struggled to meet the many ambitious measures in such a short time frame. On October 6, 2015, CMS made several changes to Stage 2 in a “final rule” that focused on streamlining the requirements and allowing more time for providers to attest.

7 Biggest Changes to Stage 2 Due to the Final Rule:

  1. Stage 1 no longer exists. All providers now belong to Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. Providers that were previously in Stage 1 are now in “Modified Stage 2.”
  2. All providers attested for a 90-day period in 2015, compared to a the 365-day reporting period in 2014.
  3. There is now a single set of 10 objectives and measures Eligible Providers must meet, replacing the previous core and menu measures structure. Eligible Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals have 9 objectives and measures.
  4. Stage 2 measures that focused on patient engagement were modified to make attestation more feasible.
  5. The following data-entry measures were removed: record vital signs, record smoking status, record demographics, clinical summaries, structured lab results, patient lists, patient reminders, electronic notes, imaging results, and family history.
  6. Health Care Organizations (HCOs) can only use EHRs that are certified with the Office of National Coordinator of Health IT demonstrating that they have the capabilities to attest for State 2 Meaningful Use requirements.

Important Dates

CMS’s latest deadlines for EHR Reporting Periods and Attestation in 2016 follow:

  • Eligible Providers (EPs), Eligible Hospitals (EHs), and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) that are already participating in the program will demonstrate a full calendar year EHR reporting period from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016.
  • EPs, EHs, and CAHs that have NOT yet participated in the program will demonstrate a  90 day reporting period from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016.
  • New attestation deadline for Meaningful Use and PQRS was March 11, 2016 (pushed back from February 29, 2016) to give practices reporting in 2015 more time to attest.
  • The Meaningful Use hardship exception process application deadline has been extended to July 1, 2016 for EPs, EHs, and CAHs to give them more time and avoid the payment change in 2017.

Understanding the new objectives and measures for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use is crucial to ensuring successful attestation. In part two of this Meaningful Use series, a comprehensive, yet user-friendly guide of these objectives and measures will be illustrated for both eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals.

View the complete Meaningful Use series here:

Bridge Patient Portal is an enterprise platform that provides a superior user experience for healthcare organizations and patients. Bridge’s patient portal truly entices users to access health data, which improves patient-physician collaboration, care outcomes and caregiver profitability. To learn more about how our robust, HIPAA-compliant system can help you meet Meaningful Use requirements  visit our website or call (866) 838-9455.

Blake Rodocker
Blake Rodocker

Director Of Business Development Blake joined Bridge Patient Portal in 2016 after transferring from our parent company, Medical Web Experts. With over 10 years of sales and management experience, Blake is a results-driven professional, passionate about driving collaboration with clients, partners, and internal teams. Throughout his time at Bridge Patient Portal, Blake has demonstrated his versatility and dedication by actively collaborating with various departments within the organization, streamlining processes, and optimizing efficiency. Blake studied business administration at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, and completed a Health Information Curriculum and Training for Transformation (HICATT) program and GCP sales certification.