EMR Vendors Want Meaningful Use Stage 3 Delay

A group of EMR vendors have joined the chorus of industry organizations asking that Meaningful Use Stage 3 deadlines be moved up to a later date.  The vendors also want to see the nature of Stage 3 requirements changed to put a greater emphasis on interoperabilityInformation Week reports.

The group, the HIMSS EHR Association (EHRA), represents 40 vendors pulled together by HIMSS.  Members include both enterprise and physician-oriented vendors, including athenahealth, Cerner, Epic, eClinicalWorks, Emdeon, Meditech, McKesson, Siemens GE Healthcare IT and Practice Fusion.

In comments submitted to HHS, the vendors argue that MU Stage 3 requirements should not kick in until three years after a provider reaches Stage 2, and start no earlier than 2017. But their larger request, and more significant one, is that they’d like to see Meaningful Use Stage 3’s focus changed:

“The EHRA strongly recommends that Stage 3 focus primarily on encouraging and assisting providers to take advantage of the substantial capabilities established in Stage 1 and especially Stage 2, rather than adding new meaningful use requirements and product certification criteria. In particular, we believe that any meaningful use and functionality changes should focus primarily on interoperability and building on accelerated momentum and more extensive use of Stage 2 capabilities and clinical quality measurement.”

So, we’ve finally got vendors like walled-garden-player Epic finding a reason to fight for interoperability. It took being clubbed by the development requirements of Stage 3, which seems to have EHRA members worried, but it happened nonetheless.

While there’s obviously self-interest in vendors asking not to strain their resources on new development, they still have a point which deserves considering.  Does it really make sense to push the development curve as far as Stage 3 requires before providers have gotten the chance to leverage what they’ve got?  Maybe not.

Now, the question is whether the vendors will put their code where their mouth is. Will the highly proprietary approach taken by Epic and some of its peers become passe?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • That’s an interesting angle I never considered – what if one of the strategies the government had behind EHR certification was to make the requirements so complex and costly FOR VENDORS as to club the vendors senseless so they would be forced to work on interoperability (long considered the key to a distributed, multi-organization, national health information network – NHIN)?

    I may be giving credit where it is not due – it’s also possible it was just by total chance that this scenario has happened. Nobody ever admits how costly this is for the vendors, and vendors have no guarantee that they will do all the work required and actually still get paid for it.

    In any case, as a tiny, long-standing niche EHR vendor who is NOT yet certified, and who has from day one wondered why it wasn’t about interoperability standards instead of standards for functionality. If systems had to be interoperable, that implies what they must capable of doing to produce the necessary data results and exchange them.

    If they had started with interoperability standards that really worked and made them mandatory, it would have also forced innovation within the systems that generate the data. At least… I think it would have.

  • Jon,
    I think you’re describing a (possibly good) unintended consequence of the governments MU actions. I’m certain this wasn’t their plan, but if the result is EHR vendors becoming interoperable it might make all of the HITECH Act spending worthwhile.

    You know I’ve been preaching the same thing about interoperability for quite a while. I’m just glad the vendors are finally starting to get on board with the idea as well. At least they’re talking that way.

  • There are so many walled gardens these days. It’s just plain awesome if suddenly the “walls came tumbling down” (Def Leppard). It actually makes me a little hopeful. A LITTLE bit! 🙂

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