Hospitals Adjusting to Meaningful Use Stage 2 Rules

Posted on August 30, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

We knew the final draft of Meaningful Use Stage 2 was going to come with as many complaints against it as Stage 1. Given the scope of the new rules, and the importance of following them, hospitals don’t seem to be up at arms to the extent one might have expected.

To start with, it’s worth noting that hospitals are very happy about one change from the draft, the provision that requires Stage 2 compliance to begin in 2014 rather than 2013, though they still have some significant Meaningful Use worries, according to an AHA official quoted in Modern Healthcare. Presumably, the AHA is also psyched that providers will only be required to demonstrate MU for a three month period in 2014, rather than an entire year.

But that doesn’t mean they’re perfectly content. Senior vice president of public policy analysis and development Linda Fishman said in a statement that hospitals are “disappointed” that the rule sets an “unrealistic” date by which hospitals must meet Stage 1 goals in order to  avoid being slapped with reimbursement penalties.

Other provider groups are focused on a new provision requiring 5 percent of patients to view, download or transmit health information during a three month period. The College of Healthcare Management Executives’ noted, quite fairly, that providers can’t control what patients do on their own time. If nothing else, making sure patients meet these goals is going to take marketing, workflow changes and some arm-twisting, to say the least, so I feel their pain.

Meanwhile, some non-hospital groups think Stage 2 didn’t go far enough. The requirement that physicians submit an electronic summary of care docs for 10 percent of patients being transferred to a hospital or another provider does far too little to promote data exchange, critics in the HIE world say.

I too am surprised that HIE-type requirements are relatively light (and focused on Direct Project specs). I’m sure that Meaningful Use Stage 3 will address these issues further, but given what our guy Farzad has said about interoperability, it might have been nice to see more progress now.