Setting the Stage 2 Clock
Kudos to CHIME (the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives) for advocating common sense in its comments on the proposed Federal Health IT Strategic Plan. Of course ONC should delay Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements until 30 percent of Eligible Hospitals (EHs) and Eligible Providers (EPs) have achieved Stage 1 objectives.
After all, the goal of Meaningful Use is to put the most powerful healthcare IT into the hands of the most physicians, to benefit the maximum number of patients nationwide, forever. Placing a premium on the speed with which it occurs de-emphasizes this primary objective.
If less than 30 percent of EHs and EPs have met Stage 1 objectives by the time Stage 2 Meaningful Use is set to begin, that means 70 percent (or more) need additional time to make the necessary technology upgrades and improve their overall rate of physician adoption. (Chances are they have not chosen to blatantly disregard the initiative!)
The Stage 1 bar was set at a rather modest level in order to build momentum. To penalize the vast majority of hospitals and providers after a period which, in retrospect, may have been too brief could have the effect of undermining the momentum that’s building.
Successful Meaningful Use requires three things: money, technology, and time. If the time allotted is insufficient, the incentive payments will be missed, and the adoption of certified EHR technology will suffer.