The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced delays to the electronic health records (EHR) incentive program timeline to extend stage 2 meaningful use for an additional year through 2016. As a result, physicians participating in stage 2 Meaningful Use will not be required to start stage 3 until January 2017. The delay will allow CMS to focus on the patient engagement, interoperability and health information exchange requirements in stage 2, and utilize data from stage 2 participation to inform policy decisions for stage 3.

While this is a welcome reprieve for most practices already participating in the EHR incentive program, those practices not yet participating will still need to report meaningful use this year (in 2014) to avoid Medicare payment penalties in 2015. Medicare physicians who have not successfully attested to meaningful use of an EHR will incur a penalty of 1-2 percent of total Medicare charges in 2015, 2 percent in 2016 and 3-5 percent in 2017 and beyond.

Click here for more information on progress on adoption of EHRs posted on the CMS website at www.cms.gov.