On August 29, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued a final rule that provides eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals (EHs), and critical access hospitals (CAHs) more flexibility in how they use certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) to meet meaningful use. The final rule adopted the May 2014 proposed rule unchanged.

The final rule allows EPs, EHs and CAHs to use the 2011 edition CEHRT, 2014 edition CEHRT or a combination of the 2011 and 2014 editions to meet meaningful use during the 2014 reporting period. To take advantage of these options, providers must attest that they are unable to implement the 2014 Edition CEHRT due to availability delays. Beginning in 2015, all EPs, EHs and CAHs are still required to report using 2014 edition CEHRT. In a press release accompanying the final rule, CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner stated that CMS “listened to stakeholder feedback and provided CEHRT flexibility for 2014 to help ensure providers can continue to participate in the EHR Incentive Programs.” So far, stakeholders have had mixed reviews of the final rule.

The final rule also formalized CMS and ONC’s recommended timeline to extend Stage 2 through 2016 and begin Stage 3 in 2017. Additionally, the final rule contains revised timelines to assist EPs, EHs and CAHs in navigating the stages of meaningful use by payment year.

The final rule is effective October 1, 2014.