Los Angeles, CA – PressReleasePoint – Tower Patient Experience Consulting Group – The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the long-awaited final requirements for Stage 2 Electronic Health Records Incentive programs. Included in the rules is an emphasis on patient engagement.

New rules specific to patient engagement include:

  • The “provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information” objective is being replaced with an “electronic/online access” core objective.
  • A new core objective for eligible providers is “use secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information.”
  • CMS proposed two new core objectives related to patient engagement with measures that require patients to take specific actions in order for a provider to achieve meaningful use and receive an EHR incentive payment. For both, the threshold was lowered from the proposed 10 percent of patients to 5 percent in the final rule. CMS also recognizes broadband availability limitations in some provider practice areas and introduced an exclusion.
  • Patient and Family Engagement is one of the six key health care policy domains of which all providers must select at least three for clinical quality measures (CQM) and reporting. These are the CQMs that reflect the potential to improve patient-centered care and the quality of care delivered to patients. They emphasize the importance of collecting patient-reported data and the ability to impact care at the individual patient level as well as the population level through greater involvement of patients and families in decision making, self care, activation and understanding of their health condition and its effective management.
  • More than 50 percent of all unique patients seen by the eligible provider are provided timely (within four business days) online access to their health information. More than 50 percent of all patients who are discharged from the inpatient or emergency department of an eligible hospital or Critical Access Hospital have their information available online within 36 hours of discharge.

The ONC final rule complements the newly released CMS final rule and reflects its commitment to promote patient engagement and safety.