Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.
A few weeks ago, the HIT Policy Committee forwarded its Stage 2 meaningful use recommendations to CMS. CMS is expected to issue a Proposed Rule in early 2012 and the Final Rule in mid-2012.
The first recommendation—intensely debated, but overwhelmingly supported in the end—is to delay the start of Stage 2 until 2014, recognizing the unrealistic time pressure that vendors and providers would face if required to upgrade, implement, and train for the new set of requirements by 2013.
Most of the proposed changes to the measures themselves are not dramatic in scope. Some measures did not change at all, (e.g., problem list, medication list, etc.) Others, (e.g., ePrescribing, smoking status), would have higher thresholds to meet—not a major obstacle if the higher-than-required performance trend reported among early attesters continues—and some would have a slightly broader scope, (e.g., CPOE would include radiology).
All menu measures would become core measures, which means that they would be required of all providers. If CMS adopts this recommendation, it will be important to identify exclusion criteria to accommodate physicians for whom particular measures may not be relevant, as they did for specific core measures in Stage 1.
The changes that are more controversial are those that hold physicians responsible for factors beyond their control, such as requiring that a given percent of patients actually view their electronic health information (Stage 1 only requires that the information be made available), or requiring that a given number of patients send a secure message to the physician/practice. Also interesting is that some of the new measures recommended for Stage 2 are measures that were specifically removed by CMS during the Stage 1 rule-making process, such as advance directives and progress notes.
If you are interested in the specifics associated with the recommendations summarized above, Computer Sciences Corporation’s Update on Stage 2 (PDF) presents a nice review.