Emr Meaningful Stage 2 Use Deadline Could Slip!

The working group handling the upgrade of Meaningful Use benchmarks for the US healthcare industry has recommended that it should be provided some additional time for introducing the changes that are to be introduced as a part of Stage 2 in Meaningful Use Criteria. These are members of the Health Information Technology Policy Committee that have called for an additional, one year for introducing Stage 2 criteria that would be listed as a part of Meaningful Use upgrade. Please note that Stage 2 of Meaningful Use criteria will apply to healthcare organizations and professionals that are complying with Stage 1 at the moment.

This recommendation has come forth in the form of a 12-page draft that was presented to Dr. Farzad Mostashari—Chairman of Health IT Policy Committee and the Head of Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The draft insists that abiding by the original timeline for implementation of Stage 2 in 2013 could pose an overwhelming range of challenges for healthcare entities who have taken the initiative to abide by Meaningful Use criteria in 2011.

It should be noted that healthcare entities, including hospitals and physicians, have already started receiving payments from the healthcare incentive program, i.e. those who are following the standards set by Stage 1. These incentives are being provided as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 where all hospitals, physicians and other, associated businesses were to receive federal incentives if they could establish ‘meaningful use’ of Electronic Health Records.

In their draft, the work group does clarify its understanding and support for the need to bring forth an upgrade in the Meaningful Use Criteria to ensure that the incentives are sought by deserving entities only. However, the members have underlined that the pace at which these changes are to be introduced should be reviewed. The work group believes that the new set of Meaningful Use Criteria should not be a matter of discomfort for those who have shown the inclination to follow the federal benchmarks until now.

Yes, the Stage 2 recommendations are believed to be in the interest of such entities since it was contrived after a series of public hearings, several testimonies healthcare professionals and patients along with more than 400 public comments in the form of submissions. However, the work group opines that if the original deadline for putting forth Stage 2 Meaningful Use Criteria is maintained, the EHR software vendors too would need to work beyond their capacity in developing new functionalities. This means even more delay since the healthcare settings using such services would need some time to upgrade their systems and understand the changes introduced in their healthcare information processing formats.

The work group has recommended that only those healthcare organizations and professionals who can attest to meaningful use criteria in 2011 are provided the proposed, additional year. This essentially means that those who have failed to understand the urgency of upgrading themselves to Stage 1 benchmarks so far and are contemplating doing so in 2012 would still need to abide by Stage 2 Meaningful Use Criteria by 2014. The Health IT Policy Committee is expected to take a final call on this recommendation and the work group's recommendations can be amended, approved or rejected.