A previous Implementation Brief discussed
the electronic health record (EHR) incentive program enacted by the HITECH Act, which is part of ARRA
. Stage 1 of that program began in 2011 and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that through July 2012, more than $6 billion in Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments had been made to 132,511 physicians and hospitals that demonstrated meaningful use of EHRs
. On August 23, 2012, CMS published a final rule on the Stage 2 Meaningful Use criteria that eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) must meet to qualify as meaningful users of electronic health records (EHRs) and receive incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid programs
. This final rule builds upon the Stage 2 proposed rule, released on March 7, 2012. The Stage 2 final rule also revises certain Stage 1 criteria, which were finalized in the July 28, 2010 final rule
. Stage 1 of the incentive program was designed to encourage providers to move key clinical data into an electronic format, and focused on establishing the functionalities of a certified EHR system
. With the final rule, CMS continues its incremental approach to continuing this transitional process and strikes a balance between stakeholders calling for Stage 2 to require demonstrated improvements in care as a result of EHR use and those seeking more flexibility in the rules, with incentives simply to acquire EHR technology.