A group of 18 industry stakeholders are urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to finalize the rule that sets meaningful use requirements for 2015 through 2017.

This follows actions taken in May when some of the nation's leading professional organization executives in healthcare submitted formal comments on the proposed changes to the EHR Incentive Program. At the time, CHIME specifically commended CMS for leading a series of changes to meaningful use, specifically the provision to shorten the EHR reporting period in 2015 from a full calendar year to 90 days.

"The additional time proposed by the modifications rule could help hundreds of thousands of providers meet meaningful use requirements in an effective and safe manner," Leslie Krigstein, interim vice president of public policy for CHIME, said in a statement. "However, we are just 61 days away from the end of the fiscal year, and the final quarter of 2015, yet hospitals and physicians are without the rules outlining the requirements for participation in the program this year."

The efforts of CMS to simplify meaningful use in the 2015-2017 Modifications Rule will be key to the ongoing success of the program. But CHIME suggests that "providers and technology developers need to have the certainty now that comes with a Final Rule to be able to meet the reporting deadlines for 2015 and continue participation in the program," the group’s representatives said in a media statement, which included provider and vendor representatives.

According to CHIME, with the end of the fiscal year, CIOs are finding themselves questioning their ability to successfully participate in the meaningful use program if the rules are not released quickly.

"CMS offered many beneficial changes in the proposed Modifications Rule, yet the delayed release may impede providers' ability to not only take advantage of the proposed changes, but ultimately jeopardize their participation in the 2015 program year," Krigstein said. "Immediate clarity on the expectations for providers in 2015 is the best hope for enabling success in the meaningful use program this year.

"If providers do not receive the Final Rule shortly, 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 the letter to CMS secretary Sylvia Burwell, the leaders stated:

"We appreciate the department's willingness to offer useful changes to the EHR Incentive Program for this year and for 2016-2017. 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, the healthcare professionals and organizations that we serve need certainty now on what this Final Rule will include.

"Our organizations continue to support health IT as a critical tool for enabling healthcare transformation, value-based care models, and the delivery of better care, improved outcomes, and lower costs. The ability to share and exchange health information is also a key component of healthcare transformation. As policy discussions continue on health information exchange/interoperability functionality, ensuring that the EHR Incentive Program is on track for 2015-2017 will reinforce the investments made to-date and support continued momentum towards the goals of enhanced care coordination and interoperability."