Moving Forward with Meaningful Use

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July 21st, 2014

Meaningful Use

Stage 2 Meaningful Use attestation continues to remain stagnant as the CMS reported only 1% of eligible providers and 3% of eligible hospitals have thus far attested to reporting requirements and implementations.

These organizations were the few to meet Stage 2’s requirements of having implemented a 2014-certified EHR by Jan 1, completed a calendar quarter reporting period by April 1 and attested by June 30. While the numbers are shockingly low, CMS has insisted that it is too early and dangerous to over-interpret a small number. In fact, CMS is right in the sense that there is yet to be any true indication of how many EPs and EHs are moving forward with Stage 2 successfully with this quarters report not reflecting the true scope of things.

Attestation is suspected to increase over the next 3 months, with hopes of better indication that the program is on track after the next calendar quarter. Providers are required to conduct a minimum of two years of Stage 2 before being approved to move on to Stage 3 in 2017. For those just beginning Stage 2, it is crucial to think ahead and simultaneously begin preparing for the subsequent stage.

It would also be wise to look to vendors and providers that have already attested to Stage 2 to gain insight into some of the obstacles that were faced. Many vendors quoted HIX and patient portal requirements to pose the biggest tests to Stage 2 attestation. It remains to be seen if the stringent requirements of meaningful use may prompt many vendors to avoid the market entirely, while the implications on smaller health care providers are yet to be seen.

Delaying Stage 3 Meaningful Use

In response to the difficulty behind Stage 2 attestation, the HIMSS EHR Association – representing 40 EHR providers, urged the CMS to finalize its ruling on 2014 meaningful use requirements and delay Stage 3 to 2018.

CMS has already proposed to give providers an additional year to upgrade their EHR systems to meet Stage 2 meaningful use standards. The proposal was in response to stakeholders demanding more flexibility amongst the requirements and included changes to a number of provisions including:

  • Meaningful use timeline;
  • Definition of certified EHR technology;
  • Requirements for the reporting of clinical quality measures.

The proposed changes coupled with the delay of Stage 3 must be finalized immediately to eliminate any wasted efforts by vendors and providers already on track with attestation. It can take up to 18 months for many of the changes and updates to be carried out after each stage of meaningful use is confirmed. While those ready to move on to Stage 3 await any changes to be made public, it still remains evident that attestation rates are poor and below expectations.

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