Here’s looking at you, CMS. This hat is tipped for you. So must be the sentiment across thousands of healthcare organizations when in early July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said that the meaningful use reporting period should be reduced from one year to just 90 days in 2016 for returning participants in the incentive program.

"This increases flexibility and lowers the reporting burden for hospital providers," the organization said in a statement posted on its website.

"These changes include a proposal for clinicians, hospitals and critical access hospitals to use a 90-day EHR reporting period in 2016 — down from a full calendar year for returning participants," the agency’s statement continued.

The meaningful use EHR reporting period for any hospital or eligible provider could now be any continuous 90-day period between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016.

This is a sea change for the organization, which has been insistent on the yearlong reporting period, despite a constant stream of voices saying they needed to act much sooner than this.

Others are backing this change in flow of the current. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), long an advocate of a shorter reporting period (ever since the meaningful use final rules came out in the fall of 2015), supports this move.

"We are pleased that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services…recommended a 90-day reporting period in 2016 for hospitals in the meaningful use program. CHIME and its members have been leading advocates for a more realistic reporting period. Shortening the reporting period to 90-days from the current 365 days will allow hospitals and health systems to continue making progress in adopting technology systems that support new payment and care delivery models," the organization said in a statement.

CHIME represents more than 1,500 CIOs and other healthcare IT professionals.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) also welcomed the change by CMS. "The AHA is pleased that CMS has recognized the need to reduce burden under the meaningful use program and offered this flexibility," said Chantal Worzala, vice president of health information and policy operations for the AHA, in a statement.

Healthcare IT News also reports that CMS "proposed lowering the bar for achieving Stage 3 objectives and eliminating the Clinical Decision Support and Computerized Provider Order Entry objectives and measures for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals."

Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt said CMS’ proposal to add new quality measures to the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting Program and the Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting Program are focused on improving patient outcomes and experience of care, the magazine reported.

Nevertheless, the shortened reporting period is somewhat of a big deal to healthcare organizations, and a huge sigh relief was heard by all those advocating the change.