Keep your foot on the pedal for MU Stage 2

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Recently CMS announced their intention to propose a postponement to Stage 3 of Meaningful Use (MU) and the updated certification requirements for EHR software until 2017 for organizations that meet the basic criteria of having already attested to MU for two years previously. I belong to several organizations for medical informaticists and clinicians, and I continue to watch their back and forth with interest. Initially, there seemed to be some misunderstanding that the deadline for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use and 2014 EHR Certification was being postponed, but that is not the case. Only the end of Stage 2 and the beginning of Stage 3 and the associated EHR certification requirements are being pushed back. This clarification has caused something of a firestorm among these groups.

First, let me say this change was expected and has been talked about in the industry media for the past few months. A number of the major associations have been pushing for a delay. However, the impetus for this change didn't come primarily out of concern for the providers, but out of logistical necessity for the benefit of the EHR software companies. Working backward from an assumed 2016 start for Stage 3 (and an 2016 Certification Update) that would make it imperative to have the new certification requirements proposed and codified with sufficient time for the software companies to make the associated changes. The earliest we could expect the proposed rules for Meaningful Use and certification would be late 2014, meaning it would be at least the third quarter of 2015 before the regulations could be finalized. That would not remotely allow the time necessary for the software coding changes.

So, at the end of the day, while the delay make sense, we still have a significant number of EHRs (particularly ambulatory versions) that have yet to be 2014 certified, ICD-10 is still due in the third quarter of 2014, and payment reform continues to take a bite out of most hospitals' CMS reimbursement percentage. These factors make it imperative that all providers remain vigilant in their focus to meeting the upcoming Stage 2 requirements. I think alarm fatigue may not just be a clinical phenomenon, but a administrative one, as well. If you need help sorting the priorities, Hielix can create order out of this chaos.

Category: Healthy Practices