ONC: Stay the course on Stage 2

February 25, 2014 in Medical Technology

“There are a lot of providers out there who are feeling a lot of anxiety and a lot of pressure,” admitted Mat Kendall, director of ONC’s Office of Provider Adoption Support at HIMSS14 on Monday.

At a session titled “Implementation of Meaningful Use Stage 2: Understanding New Rules and New Opportunities,” Kendall his ONC colleagues offered the auditorium-sized audience reasons to take heart, stay positive and stick with the program. In a “robust conversation” with stakeholders, they explained the spirit of ONC regulatory policies, shed light on certification criteria and urged attendees to keep focus on the long game of interoperability, data exchange and improved outcomes.

Steven Posnack, director of ONC’s federal policy division, asked for a show of hands from those who’d attended HIMSS12 in Las Vegas, where Stage 2 rules were unveiled.

“Close your eyes and think about how much has changed about your daily work since Las Vegas,” he said. “Likely, a lot.”

Hard to believe, but “that’s the last time we issued a rule making,” said Posnack. “Two years ago.”

On Tuesday, that streak will end, as ONC discusses the 2015 edition of its EHR certification criteria, which Posnack said is meant to build on the commitment to flexibility promised with the 2014 rules.

It’s all in the spirit of big goals, said Kelly Cronin, ONC’s health reform coordinator: namely, an acceleration of health information exchange.

“We are completely committed to realizing a patient-centered, value-driven healthcare system, and we want to make sure secure exchange of information is going to enable that,” said Cronin. “It’s our biggest challenge. It’s going to take a long time. But we have started to think a lot more explicitly about how we can collaborate across HHS to make this happen.”

She empathized with all those struggling with the challenges of Stage 2, and perhaps uncertain about the future. But she encouraged optimism.

“A lot of us feel like we’ve been at this a long time, no matter where you’re sitting – whether you’re a hospital or a clinic or a vendor or in government,” said Cronin. “It’s hard work. We’ve all had our ups and downs in the past decade. But we have made so much progress, and I think we’re so well poised now to take on these challenges and make a lot of progress in the next decade.”

“There are a lot of folks out there who feel like they’re hitting the wall,” said Kendall, using a marathon metaphor. “We want people to push through, because the benefits we’re talking about are really greater as we go forward.”

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