No More “What Ifs” – Stage 2 Meaningful Use is Here

Stage 2 Meaningful Use

No more “proposed rules”. No more “public comments”. No more “what ifs”. Stage 2 is here and it is what it is. There is no need to hyperventilate as any deadlines are over a year away. Eligible hospitals do not need to be using Stage 2 certified EHR technology until 10/01/2013. Eligible professionals only need to have that Stage 2 technology in place by 01/02/2014. For vendors, this does not need to be an Oklahoma land race. After the release of the Stage 1 Final Rules quite a few vendors rushed to achieve certification at such a pace that frequently functionality and usability was sacrificed. Hopefully that won’t be the case this time and a measured approach will rule the day.

There were a few things that popped out at me as I read through the Stage 2 Final Rules for Meaningful Use:

  • For 2014 (only) “all providers regardless of their stage of meaningful use are only required to demonstrate meaningful use for a three-month EHR reporting period…. CMS is permitting this one-time three-month reporting period in 2014 only so that all providers who must upgrade to 2014 Certified EHR Technology will have adequate time to implement their new Certified EHR systems.”
  • There are two new Core Meaningful Use Objectives: For Eligible Professionals (EP) – “Use secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health”. For Eligible Hospitals (EH) and Critical Access Hospitals (CAH)- “Automatically track medications from order to administration using assistive technologies in conjunction with an electronic medication administration record (eMAR)”.
  • All that Stage 1 business about electronics copies of health information, timely access and discharge instructions has thankfully been simplified and streamlined into requirements that patients can access their health information online. One aspect of this issue drew quite a few public comments but it made it to the Final Rule although with a lower percentage threshold than originally proposed. EPs and EHs are going to be required to encourage patients to access their health information online and EPs will be required to communicate with their patients via “the electronic messaging function of Certified EHR Technology”.

CMS has already provide ample clarification and guidance to help us through the maze. The hyperlinks below should help get us through the next few weeks.

Stage 2 Overview Tipsheet

Stage 1 vs. Stage 2 Comparison Table for Eligible Professionals

Stage 1 vs. Stage 2 Comparison Table for Eligible Hospitals and CAHs

Stage 1 Changes Tipsheet

2014 Clinical Quality Measures Tipsheet

Jim Tate is founder of EMR Advocate and a nationally recognized expert on the CMS EHR Incentive Program, certified technology and meaningful use and author of The Incentive Roadmap® The Meaningful Use of Certified Technology: Stage 1