The American College of Physicians (ACP) has become the latest organization to inform federal officials that the healthcare industry is not ready for Stage 2 of meaning use, while Stage 3 proposals seem unrealistic.
In a letter sent to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the ACP says that while it applauds the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as the Health IT Policy Committee and Standards Committee for their diligence and hard work in developing Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Program, it is “concerned that the very aggressive timeline combined with overly ambitious objectives may unnecessarily limit the success of the entire EHR Incentive program.”
Further, the organization says “the reliance on evolving and draft standards, technologies for which integration is not yet completely tested, developing infrastructure, and upcoming regulatory requirements (i.e., ICD-10) add complexity and uncertainty to the situations faced by physicians and their teams.”
On Stage 2 timeline concerns, the ACP says, “It is becoming clear that the timeline for successful meaningful use reporting in 2014 is in jeopardy. As of August 31, only 15 EHR systems have been certified for the core ambulatory EHR requirements, according to the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL). No system has been certified for the full set of meaningful use requirements. Only four systems have been certified for the recommended adult core Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs). Unless there is a sudden increase in the number of EHRs certified for the full set of MU requirements, it appears that the vast majority of practices are going to have to assemble a full 2014 system from a variety of EHR modules.”
“Other groups have also identified these problems and have suggested modifying Stage 2 reporting dates in order to extend the first reporting window for Stage 2,” the ACP continues. We share those concerns because eligible professionals (EPs) should not be penalized for problems with vendor or IT readiness. While we do not favor any particular scheme over another, we support the request to extend and/or add flexibility to the initial reporting period for Stage 2.”
In summary, the ACP says it supports additionally extending Stage 2 by at least one year to allow for appropriate time for providers to tackle the real work of Stage 2—developing and starting to use advanced clinical processes; all of which must occur in Stage 2, if Stage 3’s overarching goal is the achievement of improved outcomes.
The ACP is the latest stakeholder to make a public plea to modify the Stage 2 timeline. The other associations that have already done so include: the American Hospital Association (AHA), College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS), the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), and the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP).