Meaningful Use Stage 2 is Here! Are You Ready?

MU Stage 1 has found some slow-moving and grudging acceptance. According to this news brief from Fierce EMR, a good 42% of providers offices have already attested for MU Stage 1, while another 17% plan to attest within the next year. However, there is also a large number – 39% – who have no plans to do so in the near feature.

The reasons cited include changing technological requirements and budgetary concerns. And in the midst of all this drama, CMS is waiting in the wings with Stage 2 Meaningful Use. The Stage 2 Requirements will be published in the Federal Register on March 4 (Here’s a good meaningful use stage 2 summary for providers).

Are we truly ready for MU Part Deux? I’m not sure we are, and I’m not sure that’s the right question to ask. I’m almost giddy with the promise that MU Stage 2 offers – with greater interchange of information, in standardized formats, and public health reporting realizing its full potential. Maybe a few years into the future, I’ll break a leg skiing in the Swiss Alps and my attending physician there will be able to look up my EHR on his local software. I mean Stage 2 doesn’t come with promises of true international portability of data, but getting past Stage 2 will mean we’re that much closer to true health information flow (if we get state exchanges to effectively exchange information or significant benefits to public health reporting, CMS will declare MU Stage 2 a success.)

Even if you think MU is a load of bunk, you can still be an essential part of the process by participating in the comment stage.

Here’s a direct link to MU Stage 2 rundown published by CMS. The document has details on how you can send CMS your comments.

All comments will go on the regulations.gov website. I’m going to be watching that space in the next two months.

About the author

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Priya Ramachandran

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

2 Comments

  • Stage 2 is indeed upon us, and clearly the government’s/HIT industry’s propaganda efforts have not slowed down.

    The author mentioned that 42% of EPs have attested to stage 1, citing a report from FierceEMR. That would be pretty astounding news, if it were true – only slightly less than 4% of EPs had attested as of Dec 31, 2011. I can’t confirm the FierceEMR report at this moment – all the Fierce healthcare sites are down – but either they misreported, or the author misinterpreted.

    What is correct is that about 2/3rds of eligible hospitals and about 1/3 of eligible non-hospital providers had “registered” for attestation as of mid-January, but only about 1/3 of hospitals and, as noted, only 4% of physicians had actually attested as of Dec. 31 – thus the government’s decision to extend the attestation deadlines for Stage 1 in order to still receive the full incentive dollar amounts by 2016.

    But stage 2 could be in trouble. The stage 1 extension, coupled with the expected 6 month or so delay in ICD-10 implementation, means that practices will be facing hundreds of thousands of dollars of implementation costs arriving at the same time, while simultaneously facing potential medicare payment cuts for any combination of quality measurement, HIPAA audits, RAC audits, SGR cuts, the new IPAB, and whatever other excuses CMS can come up with in the interim. Whether doctors will bear those burdens or simply drop out of medicare altogether is an open question.

    In addition, the government announced an initiative last fall to begin standardizing data elements within EMRs, with the goal being to smooth HIE interoperability nationwide. Problem is, that is going to throw local HIE standards into chaos, just at the time that stage 2 makes substantially increased demands on EHR data transmission and interoperability with – you guessed it – local HIEs. From here, this looks like a potentially spectacular failure in planning.

    So, anyway, stage 2 is here. Stage 1 has been a less than resounding success. Physicians will have to risk going broke to try to implement all the many demands the gevernment is placjing upon them, and the future looks muddled, at best. Hooray!

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