Will Stage 2 climb inspire or derail?

March 19, 2014 in Medical Technology


It looks like the steep climb to meaningful use Stage 2 could be rocky, fraught with big and small stumbling blocks.

There’s no shortage of things to worry about: EHR certification, lagging interoperability, clunky EHRs. Then, there are the seemingly unanswerable questions: “Will the vendors be ready on time? Will patients like our portal? Will they engage? Will we be able to attest to it? How can I get the right quality measures reported the right way? What’s wrong with my EHR? What does any of this mean to specialists?

There are many questions, but few clear answers. Confusion seems to be spreading.

In a recent blog titled “Time for a new optimism,” standards guru John Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, considers the lay of land, worries about meaningful use fatigue and advocates for a shift in approach.

As Halamka discusses in his blog, one of the most difficult challenges for most healthcare organizations is juggling the competing demands and deadlines of federal government initiatives.

The work of transforming healthcare can seem daunting or even impossible at times. But many are facing the complexities head on, and finding new ways to get things done.

Recently, Michele Mills, director of the ITS Program Management Office at University of Utah Health Care urged us to talk with Anita Willoughby, senior project manager, who heads the ICD-9-to-ICD-10 medical coding conversion at the health system. Lest we forget, the deadline for ICD-10 compliance is October 1 – this year.

[See also: As 2014 begins, ICD-10 deadline looms.]

UUHC is in the midst of rolling out an Epic EHR system across the enterprise even as Willoughby is working to meet the ICD-10 deadline.

That might be overwhelming to some, prompting concerns about their own project being sidelined. Willoughby was concerned, she admitted, but she found a way to make it work – even better than it might have without the competing EHR project.

[See also: Stage 2 meaningful use off to slow start.]

Because executives decided to put the EHR rollout ahead of the ICD-10 deadline, “it allowed us to minimize the number of systems we had to remediate,” Willoughby told us. “So that was a real plus for the ICD-10 project. And, of course, it minimized the number of interfaces that we had to handle for ICD-10. So that was a real plus as well.”

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