Hospitals have more time to reach meaningful use

The deadline for meaningful use has been extended.

Because meaningful use has been a key part of health IT structures for some time, the need to adhere to reporting deadlines is a key duty of healthcare tech professionals. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) now have some relief for their planning, because the deadline has been pushed from November 30 to 11:59 pm EST on December 31.

The different deadline affects the eligible and critical access hospitals involved with this year's Medical Electronic Health Record Incentive Program. The intent is to make it easier for these entities to manage information as the year closes.

This incentive may be a reaction to the low number of adopters who reported reaching Stage 2 of meaningful use requirements. In an informative slideshow released earlier this year, CMS noted that just 43,900 professionals out of a potentially registered 500,000 successfully attest to Stage 2 compliance.

Although the delay could be seen as a boon for practices, some, like Jeff Smith of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) have mixed feelings. In a statement quoted by EHRIntelligence, Smith said CMS needs to provide more guidance for how to proceed in 2015 and meet that year's reporting requirements.

"The extended deadline is welcome news for those hospitals who have experienced problems while trying to attest to meaningful use in 2014," he said. 'But the extension also points to the degree of program complexity and the level of reporting burden associated with attesting to meaningful use."

Practices and individual care providers alike should identify both how close they are to meeting current meaningful use standards and whether they need healthcare IT consulting assistance to reach their goals within the allotted time.

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