CIOs say they feel heard, but still seek clarity on Stage 2

Chief information officers were scrambling to wade through and make sense of more than 1,000 pages of Stage 2 meaningful use rules yesterday afternoon, with some poring over the details late into the night. Most seem pleased, so far, but say there's lots of work to do.

With the caveat that he'd only had a brief time to sift through some 1,100 pages of densely-worded regulations, Bill Spooner, CIO of Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, told Healthcare IT News Thursday evening that he was most of all "grateful that the rules are published."

There were some rumors that Stage 2 might not be unveiled until September – or even until after the November presidential election – but Spooner said it was crucial that the rules were made public as soon as was practicable.

"It will be a sprint to complete the software development/implementation/adoption cycle," he said. "We need every minute."

At first glance, Spooner said he saw some things he liked. Chief among them: Stage 2's three-month reporting period for meaningful use in 2014, which had been requested by many stakeholders, was a "win," he said, offering much-needed flexibility for providers and software developers.


Moreover, "The overall revised phase-in plan is another win for provider and vendor alike," he said. "Reaching Stage 3 by 2015 would not have been feasible."

Charles Christian, CIO of Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Ind., said it was good to see federal agencies "getting a better understanding of the product development lifecycle and how much time is required to move things from regulation to code to successful implementation."

But other areas, especially with regard to the rule's much-discussed patient engagement stipulations, gave him pause.

"I was surprised to see the continued requirement that providers will held responsible for their patient’s behavior related to the patient portal objective," said Christian. "In my experience, the issues are around process, and not technology. We must ensure that we’re taking a measured and thoughtful approach to the change required, rather than just trying to check a piece of functionality off the list."

Like Spooner, Christian seemed grateful just to have the rule ready – and to know just what he'll be working toward over the coming months and years. Because there's lots of work to do.