March 27, 2012, 9:58 PM — The latest set of proposed government rules to push healthcare providers to roll out electronic health records (EHRs) requires that patients use the digital technology.
Health insurance specialist Robert Anthony detailed the nuances of Stage 2 rules during a webinar this week sponsored by the National eHealth Collaborative.
Last month, the U.S. government's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published to the Federal Register the second of three sets of guidelines that the healthcare community must follow in rolling out EHRs. Stage 2 proposed rules are currently undergoing a six-month comment period.
Anthony, who works for the CMS, said Stage 2 rules require healthcare providers to offer EHR access to more than half of their patients. Clinics and private practices must also prove at least 10% of their patients are actually accessing healthcare information on EHRs. That includes radiological imaging results, which can be accessed directly in an EHR or through a link in the EHR to the images.
"This is a change from Stage 1, where really anything a patient did or didn't do could not interfere with a provider meeting meaningful use," Anthony said. "We believe providers are in a unique position to encourage patients to take an active role in their healthcare."
Another core objective of Stage 2 is that eligible healthcare professionals prove that at least 10% of patients use secure, electronic messaging platforms that are native to EHR systems to communicate with healthcare providers.
"This is just another instance of patient action being a requirement of meaningful use," he said.
The new rules have moved beyond merely providing an electronic copy of health information to patients, such as an email document. "This is the ability for them to view their health information, download it or transmit it online," Anthony said.
Just as with Stage 1 rules, under Stage 2 criteria, clinicians must meet (or qualify for an exclusion to) more than a dozen core objectives and choose from another menu of objectives. Among the changes: Offering up lab results in EHRs is no longer an option; It is now a core requirement.
Eligible heathcare professionals and hospitals must now use electronic prescriptions 65% of the time. And computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems must be used for at least 60% of all orders, including laboratory and radiology orders. Stage 1 only covered medication orders.