Meaningful Use – Hurry Up… But Take Your Time

There’s a lot of excitement around achieving Stage 1 of Meaningful Use and the ability to start claiming those funds. I fully understand that excitement and emphasis.

The focus on Meaningful Use and the dollars it brings to the table is overwhelming I.T. strategic plans in many organizations. The result has been an exclusive focus on the Stage 1 requirements and a rush to submit for those dollars as soon as possible.

It’s important to keep in mind that HITECH doesn’t end at Meaningful Use Stage 1. There are two more stages after that and we know far less about what they’ll include.

This is where timing becomes a factor in the plan. For some organizations, the correct strategy is to wait to submit for Stage 1 funds. There’s a lot that needs to put into place to qualify for Stage 1 requirements and you can only spend two years in Stage 1 before you need to meet Stage 2 compliance.

However, you can qualify for Stage 1 for the first time in 2011 and still receive your full payment through the program. Full payment, that is, as long as you don’t fail to meet Stage 2 in time.

In other words, even if you could submit today, you may want to wait until mid-2011, when Stage 2 specifications are set to be finalized. That way, you know what Stage 2 includes and whether or not you want a little extra time to meet those goals. It’s risky to commit to having Stage 2 requirements in place in 2013 when you don’t know the details. And if you submit for Stage 1 now, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.

But just as with Stage 1, it would be foolish to wait for those specifications to be complete before starting to put the appropriate tools into place. Organizations that that decided to “wait and see” what the Stage I requirements include are now finding themselves somewhat behind.

My recommendation: Even if you could submit sooner – hold off until you’ve performed your gap analysis between where you are and what Stage 2 commitments will involve. If you’re on track to hit Stage 2 without trouble, move forward. If Stage 2 includes any big surprises, however, you’ll be glad you gave yourself some extra time.

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This entry was posted in Best Practices, Meaningful Use by Ben Dillon. Bookmark the permalink.
Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

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