According to a new report from consultancy firm, Computer Sciences Corp, the final rule that is expected to be published next year on requirements under Stage 2 of the EMR meaningful use program is unlikely to be materially different from the recent recommendations from the Health IT Standards and Policy Committees.
The CSC report lays out the recommended measures for Stage 2 of the EMR meaningful use program. These include measures unchanged from Stage 1, unchanged but no longer optional in Stage 2, higher thresholds in Stage 2, and new measures unique to Stage 2.
Providers will have three years through 2013 in which to verify that they have met Stage 1 meaningful use requirements. The delay is among the Stage 2 recommendations that the Health IT Policy Committee approved at its meeting on June 8, 2011.
With the final rule expected to be released next year, both providers and vendors have contended that they will not have enough time to test and implement updated systems before the required 2013 start date. Under the timeline developed by ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which supervises the EMR Incentive Programs, providers who wait until 2012 to first demonstrate meaningful use Stage 1 will use 2014 as their first year of Stage 2 implementation.
Because of the undue time pressure these recommendations may cause, the Health IT Committee suggests providers who met Stage 1 in 2011 should be permitted to wait until 2014 to begin Stage 2. This would not affect hospitals and doctors beginning Stage 1 in 2012, who will still be expected to implement meaningful use Stage 2 in 2014.
Despite concerns of vendors being able to meet tight Stage 2 criteria, only a few recommended requirements are actually new to the industry, according to the CSC report. So the major challenge in Stage 2 will be meeting the expanded requirements, not vendor capabilities.
For example, Electronic Medication Administration Record (e-MAR) and physician documentation are available in many practice management software solutions. Work with your vendor to address any gaps in required capabilities, but first make sure you have the right foundation in place to actually use the capabilities that are currently available.
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