Execs react to planned Stage 2 pushback
December 6, 2013 in Medical Technology
It’s official. Hospitals and healthcare providers nationwide may get a little more time with meaningful use requirements after CMS proposed Friday extending the Stage 2 deadline to 2016 – a decision that has many health IT officials breathing big sighs of relief.
The deadline for providers and hospitals to achieve meaningful use of electronic health records is currently slated for October 2014, but the new proposal may alter that date in the near future.
Overall, the proposed delay, which also includes a Stage 3 pushback to 2017, was lauded as “good news” for the folks at San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare, said Elizabeth Renfree, director of interoperability at the health system. “We have been working to prepare for Stage 2, but are still waiting on code updates from our vendor that will not be delivered until January,” she wrote to Healthcare IT News.
[See also: Mostashari: MU2 delay unlikely.]
Renfree also cited the “significant workflow processes” they have yet to implement in order to meet the requirements for transition of care, view, download and transmit measures.
Mary Anne Leach, CIO at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said a Stage 2 extension would be “an enormous relief to the provider community” and the hospital alike.
Because CHC’s in the process of opening new hospital locations, optimizing their EMR and moving forward with data analytics, the delay would be a much-needed breather. “Our resources are already stretched thin,” she said. “Moving the Stage 2 deadline would significantly help our provider community and may even encourage more providers to ‘stay the course’ with meaningful use.”
Some expressed a more neutral response to the CMS announcement.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Chief Information Officer John Halamka, MD, said if the delay was ultimately finalized, it wouldn’t directly affect the hospital, as BIDMC is slated to certify their systems Dec. 9 and will attest in April following the January-March reporting period.
It does, however, “give us more flexibility as we try to balance resources among competing projects,” he said.
Moreover, there’s also the issue of product certification, Halamka pointed out in his Nov. 20 blog. Many Stage 1 products have not been certified for Stage 2, and the limited number of Stage 2 certified products has only recently been introduced into the industry, making full implementation a real challenge.
“I believe that we could see hundreds of hospitals fail to attest to meaningful use Stage 2 by the current deadline, despite their best efforts,” he wrote.
Other groups, such as HIMSS for instance, have previously asked federal officials for a six month Stage 2 extension and thus are pleased with the announcement.
[See also: Keep Stage 2 start as is, says HIMSS.]
“HIMSS is gratified that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT have heard concerns from health stakeholders and extended meaningful use Stage 2 by one year,” said Thomas A. Leary, HIMSS vice president for government relations, in a Dec. 6 press statement. “This additional time to attest offers an opportunity for increased feedback and analysis on technology implementation, eClinical Quality Measure reporting, and progress toward interoperability that will enhance the ability of eligible hospitals and eligible professionals to meaningfully use health IT, and thus improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care.”
As of October 2013, 85 percent of eligible hospitals and more than 60 percent of eligible providers had received EHR incentive payments. Moreover, nine in 10 eligible hospitals and eight in 10 eligible professionals had taken the initial step of registering for the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs as of October 2013, according to CMS.