Setting Pace for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use

Achieving Meaningful Use of EHR technology and receiving federal incentive bonuses is a significant motivator for a nationwide transition to a 21sth century IT infrastructure for healthcare. So far an estimated 50,000 providers have signed up to participate in the EHR Incentive Program.

The transition to a full blown nationwide IT infrastructure will occur in 3 stages.  Currently, Stage 1 of Meaningful Use is in place.  However, in 2013 Stage 2 will begin and bring with it new requirements for Meaningful Use of EHR technology.

The current debate in the federal advisory committee working on Meaningful Use is about what should actually be included in Stage 2.  The federal advisory committee has to decide what will allow for greater EHR adoption at an achievable pace for most providers across the country.  At the same time, whatever the federal advisory committee decides to include in Stage 2 will also become a means for policy makers to accomplish their end objective.

The requirements for Stage 2 will be selected based on a report that was recently issued by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).  Currently, based on the report by PCAST, Stage 2 requirements may include EHR functions that would expand health information exchanges, enable patients to download information to a personal health record, allow for simple searches by providers and allow for the sharing of immunization data.

On the other hand, the HIMSS Electronic Health Records (EHRs) Association along with most other major trade associations in the health IT sector want a delay in Stage 2 implementation in order to allow more time for providers and vendors to get ready for the change. However, the federal advisory committee plans on implementing Stage 2 requirements without any delay.