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Meetings to Focus on Stage 3 of Meaningful Use

August 3, 2011
by David Raths
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Health IT policymakers to rely on feedback from early adopters as they prepare 2015 guidelines

The Health IT Policy Committee will begin developing its strategy for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use with two days of meetings in early October. Speaking at the advisory group’s August 3 meeting, Paul Tang, M.D., vice chair of the committee, said now is a good time to step back and re-assess ONC’s strategy.

Stage 2 had to be done rather quickly without hearing about experience from the field. Stage 3 implementation won’t occur until 2015. With more time to gather feedback from the field, the policy committee can study whether it got its early objectives and timing right. “We can look at whether it is playing out according to plan and what future levers can help overcome barriers,” said Tang, chief medical information officer at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in California. (As of July 8, 100 hospitals and more than 2,300 eligible providers had completed the attestation process, according to CMS officials. The most popular menu items to attest to were drug formulary, lab test results, and patient lists. The least popular items involved medication reconciliation and summary of care records.)

Tang predicted that quality measures from electronic health records would be key to Stage 3, partly because they are becoming increasingly important to accountable care organizations and other payment reform efforts. Noting that quality measure developers need at least 18 months to do their work, he said, “we have to give them as much warning as we can.”

Paul Tang, M.D.

Jodi Daniel, director of ONC’s Office of Policy and Planning, mentioned that ONC’s strategic plan would be published in the next month. She also said that in September ONC would begin holding a series of events related to consumer e-health and would launch a consumer-facing website to try to raise awareness of the value of health information technology to patient-provider communications.

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