Stage 2 Extension Met With Mixed Reviews

Russell Branzell, President & CEO, CHIME

Russell Branzell, President & CEO, CHIME

After several months of speculation — and requests from myriad organizations — it was announced Friday that the Meaningful Use Stage 2 deadline would be extended by one year. The move is intended to allow CMS and ONC to focus efforts on the successful implementation of the enhanced patient engagement, interoperability and HIE requirements in Stage 2, and to utilize Stage 2 data to inform policy decisions for Stage 3.

But while the long-awaited news was initially met with praise, organizations like CHIME and HIMSS soon commented that it fails to address underlying issues with the timeline that continue to hinder providers. In a statement released late last week, CHIME officials noted that the proposed extension of Stage 2 and delay of Stage 3 doesn’t impact front-end requirements for Meaningful Use in 2014 and doesn’t provide users the support needed to install and upgrade new technology.

“While CHIME believes that the federal agency’s announcement Friday gives vendors and policymakers flexibility to ensure the outcomes sought in Stage 3 are realized, we are disappointed that it does not provide the flexibility for providers requested in previous recommendations,” the organization stated.

CHIME is urging CMS to consider previous recommendations to give eligible hospitals and eligible professionals flexibility in meeting the start date of Stage 2, and stands firm in its belief that providers need more time to install, test, and implement the new certified EHR software.

“There is a perfect storm brewing,” said CHIME CEO Russ Branzell. “With ICD-10 compliance coming into view, with HIPAA compliance demanding renewed attention and with all the activities associated with the Affordable Care Act converging in 2014, providers are nearing a breaking point. Flexibility of the kind announced today is beneficial for Stage 3, but Stage 2 start-date flexibility is needed to ensure long-term success.”

HIMSS echoed these sentiments, reiterating its Call For Action to extend Year 1 of the MU 2 attestation period.

“Given the challenges some providers, hospitals, and vendors are experiencing upgrading to the 2014 certification, we call on the government to address the timeline and allow at least 18 months in which Eligible Hospitals and Eligible Providers can attest to Meaningful Use requirements for one quarter,” the organization said in a statement.

HIMSS had amended its statement after initially endorsing the announcement, saying that the “additional time to attest offers an opportunity for increased feedback and analysis on technology implementation, eClinical Quality Measure reporting, and progress toward interoperability that will enhance the ability of eligible hospitals and eligible professionals to meaningfully use health IT, and thus improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care.”

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