The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has extended the deadline for health care providers to meet Stage 2 meaningful use requirements for the electronic health records incentive program. Under the revised timeline, Stage 2 will be extended through 2016 and Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for those providers that have completed at least two years in Stage 2, CMS said in a release.

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"The goal of this change is two-fold: first, to allow CMS and ONC to focus efforts on the successful implementation of the enhanced patient engagement, interoperability and health information exchange requirements in Stage 2; and second, to utilize data from Stage 2 participation to inform policy decisions for Stage 3," according to a statement from Robert Tagalicod, the director of the Office of E-Health Standards and Services at CMS and Jacob Reider, MD, acting national coordinator for health information technology at the Office of the National Coordinator. "This new proposed timeline tracks ongoing conversations we at CMS and ONC have had with providers, consumers, health care associations, EHR developers, and other stakeholders in the health care industry."

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The American Medical Association applauded the decision but expressed concern about the requirements for meaningful use: “While the revised timeline for implementation is a positive step, we remain deeply concerned about the program’s current pass/fail approach to demonstrating Meaningful Use. We continue to advocate strongly for greater flexibility in the participation requirements."