Love it or Hate it, Meaningful Use Stage 2 is Fast Approaching

Posted on February 15, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

Valentine’s Day may be behind us, but I still wonder how many providers would be willing to write love notes to their EHR vendors, especially with rumors swirling that CMS will release Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements in the next few weeks. (John Moore at Chilmark Research is apparently taking bets via Twitter, if anyone’s interested in doing a bit of gambling in preparation for the big HIMSS event in Vegas next week. He predicts it will be the Friday after HIMSS. I think it might just make good fodder for Farzad Mostashari’s keynote next Thursday morning, as he has been vocal about delaying the start of Stage 2 until 2014.)

Whether they’re released during or after the show, I decided it would be a good idea to bone up on Stage 1 versus Stage 2, and how what may or may not be included in Stage 2 will lead providers to love (or hate) their systems all the more.

I fortunately came across a very well written and comprehensive (though not too long) report from CSC entitled “Moving Ahead with Stage 2 of Meaningful Use,” which provides a very clear-cut picture of the challenges providers found with Stage 1, and what they are likely to encounter as challenges in Stage 2. It’s a brief, informative read that I highly recommend folks take a look at before they head to HIMSS in just a few days.

My biggest take away from the report was that the providers surveyed had done very little in Stage 1 to engage patients and coordinate care, which is not surprising given that most were concentrating on getting their EHRs up and running in time to fully attest for Stage 1. Combine this with the fact that formal ACO rules weren’t released until late last year, and I can understand why engaging patients and coordinating care just wasn’t on the radar of most healthcare facilities.

But oh what a difference a few months can make! The CSC report notes “Stage 2 is coming soon and a full year of operational use of capabilities will be required (rather than three months for Stage 1). Waiting until the final rule is issued to start moving is simply not an option.

“Now is the time for organizations to work in earnest to build capabilities to engage patients, coordinate care and electronically report on quality.”

And finally, the report notes that:

Three essential areas where organizations need to start now are:

  1. Providing patients with access to their health information electronically through patient portals or directly from EHR systems.
  2. Electronic capture of physician notes, including diagnosis and treatment, plus rationale for excluding patients from treatment recommendations.
  3. Exchange of patient information at transitions in care.

I’d be interested to hear from our readers that have successfully attested for Stage 1 how they view these predictions for Stage 2. Are they manageable? Do they fit with your organization’s current strategy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.