Keep Stage 2 start as is, says HIMSS

August 16, 2013 in Medical Technology

With an array of industry groups anxiously calling for a delay of meaningful use Stage 2, HIMSS has made the case for a more nuanced approach, asking federal officials to launch Stage 2 on schedule but extend year one of the attestation period.

Drawing on data from the HIMSS Analytics database, the HIMSS Board of Directors argues that the timeline and certification challenges faced by eligible hospitals, eligible professionals and technology vendors do indeed necessitate a longer attestation window.

That period should extend through April 2015 and June 2015 for EHs and EPs, respectively, they say. This would encompass 18 months in which those groups can attest to meaningful use requirements for one quarter.

But the program should start as planned, HIMSS argues in an Aug. 15 letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Farzad Mostashari, MD.

β€œIn our Call to Action, HIMSS asks the healthcare community – providers, hospitals and vendors – to come together in their execution plans for the 2014 certification process and implementation of 2014 certified products,” said Carla Smith, executive vice president of HIMSS, in a press statement.

“We have recommended an extra six months to achieve year one of meaningful use Stage 2, which is a brief amount of time when considering our ultimate and joint goal of successful implementation of health IT to support care coordination and healthcare transformation,” she said.

Data from the more than 5,400 hospitals in the HIMSS Analytics database show that concerns of hospitals and tethered physician practices preparing for Stage 2 are legitimate.

Up to 68 percent of eligible hospitals, and 41 percent of tethered ambulatory facilities have purchased the necessary software to attest to the 2014 certification requirements, but there are concerns that many are waiting for the necessary upgrades to the certified version, says HIMSS officials.

Recent months have seen several high profile industry groups and politicians calling for a delay in Stage 2.

In May, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives wrote a letter to a group of GOP Senators in which it “formally and strongly recommend a one-year extension to Stage 2.”

Those extra 12 months “will give providers the opportunity to optimize their EHR technology and achieve the benefits of Stage 1 and Stage 2,” wrote CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell and Board Chair George Hickman. “It will give vendors the time needed to prepare, develop and deliver needed technology to correspond with Stage 3; and it will give policymakers time to assess and evaluate programmatic trends needed to craft thoughtful Stage 3 rules.”

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