Healthcare providers to receive extension to meaningful use deadline

Physicians and hospitals enrolled in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) meaningful use federal financial incentive program will receive an extension to the deadline for attestation to stage two of the initiative, reports Information Week.

In addition to providing existing participants in the program with more time to ensure that they are prepared to meet the deadline for stage two, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hopes that the extension will encourage healthcare providers who have not yet done so to enroll in the medical informatics adoption initiative.

“We want to provide an added incentive for providers attesting to meaningful use in 2011,” Joe Kuckler, a spokesman for the CMS, told the news source. “Input from the vendor community and the provider community makes clear that the current schedule for compliance with stage two meaningful use objectives in 2013 poses a nearly insurmountable timing challenge for those who attest to meaningful use [this year].”

Despite the delay, many healthcare providers will have to adopt a clinical informatics system by the end of this year in order to take full advantage of the deadline extension. A primary motivation for the delay in the stage two deadline is that many hospitals and care facilities postponed the implementation of a medical informatics network due to the necessity of attesting to stage two of meaningful use by 2013.

The adoption of clinical informatics systems has been a cornerstone of the healthcare reforms established by the Obama Administration and the DHHS. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the DHHS, said that implementing healthcare IT improves the quality of patient care and can save money in the long run, in a statement released earlier this year.

In addition to reducing expenditure and improving operational efficiency, adoption of healthcare IT is also creating jobs. According to Sebelius, more than 50,000 jobs have been created since the introduction of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act in 2009.

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