On July 31, 2015, HIMSS joined several stakeholder organizations in signing a joint letter urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to expeditiously publish the Final Rule on modifications to the EHR Incentive Program for program years 2015-2017. The letter thanks the Department for its willingness to offer useful changes to the EHR Incentive Program for this year and for 2016-2017. However, to ensure that eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals (EHs), and critical access hospitals (CAHs) will be able to meet the reporting deadlines for 2015 and continue to participate in the program, healthcare professionals and organizations need certainty now on what this Final Rule will include.
The letter also cites the impending October 3rd deadline to begin the final possible 90-day reporting period in calendar year 2015. If providers do not receive the Final Rule in the near-term, the letter states that it will be very difficult to make workflow adjustments in a timely manner to meet programmatic deadlines and facilitate Meaningful Use tracking and reporting in 2015. Moreover, the letter also references several specific areas that could require significant changes that will be challenging in this short timeframe, especially in public health reporting, including the proposed requirement of bi-directional exchange for immunizations registries.
Overall, the letter continues to express support for health IT as a critical tool for enabling healthcare transformation and ensuring that the EHR Incentive Program is on track for 2015-2017. The signatories ask that this rule be finalized quickly in order to reinforce the investments made to-date and support continued momentum towards the goals of enhanced care coordination and interoperability.