CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced several policy developments last week relating to electronic health record (EHR) technology issues.

On January 22, CMS updated its FAQ on the third Meaningful Use Stage 2 Summary of Care Measure. In order to satisfy that measure, an eligible provider must transmit at least one summary of care record to another provider that uses a different certified EHR product, or must conduct at least one successful test transmission to CMS’s Designated Test EHR. CMS states in its new FAQ that the agency is aware of difficulties some eligible providers have had in sending transmissions to the CMS Designated Test EHR. The FAQ goes on to state that if an eligible provider is not able to send a summary of care record to a provider with a different certified EHR product or to the CMS Designated Test EHR, the eligible provider may satisfy the measure by maintaining documentation that the eligible provider has, and is using, a certified EHR that meets the technical standards to send such transmissions (set forth at 45 C.F.R. § 170.202). The FAQ is available by clicking here.

On January 29, CMS announced that it would engage in a 2015 rulemaking to address certain modifications to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Among the topics about which the agency intends to seek stakeholder input are shortening the 2015 reporting period to 90 days to enable providers to fully implement a 2014 Edition certified EHR, as well as aligning hospital and eligible professional reporting periods to the calendar year (eligible hospitals currently report on a federal fiscal year basis). CMS did not set a timetable for these potential changes, but stated only that they would be addressed in a rulemaking separate from the coming Stage 3 Meaningful Use Rule. CMS’s announcement is available here.

Finally, on January 30, ONC released a draft report on initiatives to promote EHR interoperability. Noting that the Meaningful Use interoperability requirements do not go far enough to promote the sharing of health information among providers, ONC’s report proposes a series of other initiatives such as developing “core data standards” for EHR transmissions and new Medicare payment incentives/adjustments relating to interoperability. ONC states that it will work with CMS and other stakeholders to develop these initiatives. Comments on the draft report are due to ONC no later than April 3, 2015. The draft report is available here.