Rumor has it that HHS will be releasing Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements this week. Why this week? The most likely reason is that the Healthcare Information Management System’s Society (HIMSS) annual conference, a collection of 25,000 or so healthcare IT professionals representing every angle of the industry, kicks off on Sunday.
What better time to drop the bomb all of us have been waiting for?
We do have some insight into what Stage 2 will look like. Indications over the past year have been that the specific things hospitals, and by proxy the vendors that serve them, are asked to do won’t change a great deal from Stage 1 to Stage 2. The thing that will change is the metrics hospitals use must demonstrate they are, in fact, meaningful.
Those metrics send a clear message, however. Not all Stage 1 criteria have been achieved equally by the physicians and hospitals that have attested, and some of the criteria were the usage of capabilities that are a stretch to consider as truly meaningful.
So look for the bar to be raised across the board, but particularly for those token items such as “implement one decision support rule.”
Expect also to see greater emphasis on some requirements that have been systematically avoided by entities achieving Meaningful Use Stage 1. A report by CSC Healthcare lists more than a dozen criteria that have been commonly deferred or exempted by Stage 1 providers. The majority of these fall into the category of sharing information including transmitting summary records at care transitions, submitting public health data and sharing information with patients such as digital copies of their health information, discharge instructions, educational materials and health reminders.
One of the key goals of the HITECH Meaningful Use process is to not only digitize healthcare information, but to break down the boundaries that exist between providers, hospitals and patients. I would be disappointed if the criteria for this type of data sharing didn’t tighten up considerably under Stage 2.
What this also means is that lots of the really exciting criteria, the pieces that start to force changes in the healthcare delivery model in the United States, won’t be coming until Stage 3. This is where we’ll start to see the requirements for patient self-management tools and other forward-looking components. I only hope we won’t be waiting another year before those criteria see the light of day.
So as HIMSS staff scramble to prepare for a shift in how they’ll be spending next week, keep an eye on your favorite social media outlets, including my Twitter account @BenAtGeo, for breaking news and insights as Stage 2 requirements are revealed and discussed.
If you’ll be at HIMSS next week, also stop and visit Geonetric at booth 1370!