Stage 3 Meaningful Use Criteria for Optometrists

I remember writing my first post and eBook on how to begin participating in the Meaningful Use Incentive Program like it was yesterday. And here we are, talking about the last stage, Stage 3, of the program. We’ve come a very long way! While Stage 3 doesn’t begin until 2017, the CMS recently released their proposal for the Stage 3 Meaningful Use criteria. Here’s the lengthy 301 page proposal if you have the time and patience to check it out. But if you don’t, here’s a condensed version of the proposal, and more importantly, how the new rules will affect Meaningful Use Criteria for optometrists if the proposal passes.

Stage 3 Proposed Rule: How it Affects Meaningful Use for Optometrists


Stage 3 was designed to be harder on eligible professionals who make it past Stage 1 and 2. The good news is that the proposed changes will make reporting periods easier to understand, but will also focus more on data quality, EHR system interoperability and analytics.

Stage 3 Requirements

Stage 3 will contain a single set of objectives and measures so everyone will report on the same measures in 2018 regardless of how long you’ve been participating in the program. Any of the measures in Stage 1 and 2 of the program that allowed for paper workflows and manual charting will have to be entirely transitioned to EHR reporting.

Payment Adjustments

Penalties for not participating in the program will remain the same. Adjustments have started at a 1% reduction of Medicare reimbursements this year, and will compound up to 5% for every year that you don't participate and successfully attest.

However, the CMS will still accept hardship exemption applications for practices that still face technical barriers to EHR adoption. Look out for the deadlines for filing the application for the year that you would like to avoid penalties. 

2017 Reporting Period

Starting in 2017, all reporting periods will align with the calendar year, regardless of the stage and year you’re in. Reporting will be a full year and the 90-day reporting period will only apply to those who are participating in the program for the first time.

EHR Certification Requirements

EHR vendors can recertify their systems to become a 2015 certified system, but you can still use a 2014 certified system to attest between the 2015-2017 reporting periods. But when 2018 hits, you will need a 2015 certified system to continue participating in the program.

Keep in mind that these are simply proposed changes that have not yet gone into effect. But the coolest part of this post is when we tell you that your opinions on this proposal matter! Because none of the rules have passed yet, comments on the proposed rule document are currently being accepted on! If you are truly passionate about the topics listed above, you can read about them in detail at the Federal Register, and you’ll be able to see sections that are open to public comments and submit your feedback.

Feel free to leave a comment if you think that we missed an important update, and subscribe to our blog for more industry news!

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