In late August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule specifying the stage 2 criteria for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive program. The incentive program provides substantial incentive payments to health care professionals and hospitals that adopt and meaningful use certified EHR technology. To receive the maximum incentive payment amounts, providers must begin implementation and meaningful use of EHR technology this year.

CMS has described the three stages of “meaningful use” of EHR technology in a recent CMS press release:

  • Stage 1 sets the basic functionalities electronic health records must include such as capturing data electronically and providing patients with electronic copies of health information.
  • Stage 2 (which will begin as early as 2014) increases health information exchange between providers and promotes patient engagement by giving patients secure online access to their health information.
  • Stage 3 will continue to expand meaningful use objectives and improve health care outcomes.

For additional information about stage 2 implementation and the EHR Incentive Program, visit the CMS website. The website includes an overview of stage 2 requirements and a comparison of stages 1 and 2.