With the starting date for stage 2 of the meaningful use program fast approaching, two major provider groups are asking for more flexibility in the program's requirements
As the starting date for Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use (MU2) program draws near, two major provider organizations are asking the government to loosen the requirements to qualify for the program.
In a joint letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association called for a “realignment” of the MU requirements “to ensure a safe, orderly transition to Stage 2.”
The associations want HHS to:
The associations say greater flexibility in implementing MU2 would especially benefit smaller medical practices and those serving rural communities. They cite studies published in the journal Health Affairs that found higher rates of EHR adoption among “physicians in practices with 11 or more physicians, in practices owned by a hospital or academic medical center, and in counties where less than 15% of the population was in poverty.”
An additional concern about MU2 was raised last year by four powerful Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. Congress. The representatives wrote to Sebelius to express "serious concern" that MU2's standards for interoperability-the ability of different EHR systems to communicate with one another-are weaker than those under MU1. The MU2 rules "fail to achieve comprehensive interoperability in a timely manner, leaving our healthcare system trapped in information silos," the authors said, and urged Sebelius to suspend incentive payments and delay penalties until HHS develops universal interoperability standards
The MU2 implementation date for hospitals is October 1, which is the start of the federal government’s 2014 fiscal year. The implementation date for physicians is January 1, 2014.