Groups offer early mixed reactions to MU2

By Diana Manos
11:29 AM

A few organizations have stepped forward to weigh in on the meaningful use stage 2 proposed rule, although most stakeholders are still wading through the 455-page document issued Feb. 23 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Health IT Now, a coalition of 62 patient, provider, employer and payer organizations that support the rapid adoption and use of heath information technology is concerned that the proposed rule, does not go far enough.

The group’s executive director, Joel White, issued a statement on Thursday saying, “The rules released by HHS today are a good start, but more needs to be done to ensure doctors have the right information when treating patients. In the world of health IT, getting the right information at the right time about the right patient can literally mean life or death.”

The HHS rule is proposing to delay implementation of higher standards in Stage 2 of the $27 billion meaningful use program by one year for eligible hospitals and physicians who adopted EHRs in 2011. These new standards incrementally increase requirements and add new functions health providers must meet to qualify for taxpayer incentives in Medicare and Medicaid.

[See also: CMS releases meaningful use proposed rule]

“Unfortunately, under the HHS rule, we will lose a year of interoperability,” White said. “Stage 1 required a test of clinical information exchange. HHS has proposed eliminating the test in 2012 and 2013. So there isn’t even a test for that previously required function.”

“In 2014, HHS suggests adopting minimal standards for information exchange related to a patient who transfers from a hospital to a nursing home, or who is referred by an internist to a cardiologist,” White added. “We have to wait two years for that? This is simply not acceptable.”

White also said the proposal needs to do more to address interoperability, data silos and quality measures.

Steven J. Stack, MD, chair-elect of the American Medical Association Board said HHS should conduct a full evaluation of Stage 1 before the proposal for Stage 2 is finalized, “to eliminate roadblocks and encourage greater physician participation.”

“We want to pave the way for physicians in all practice sizes and specialties to be able to take advantage of the EHR incentives," Stack said.

The AMA will carefully review the MU2 proposal and will submit formal recommendations before the 60-day deadline, he added.

 The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) said it was pleased with the proposed rule. HIMSS is particularly pleased that HHS provided in the proposal at least 18 months before enactment of Stage 2, to give providers and vendors adequate time to meet the new requirements.

HIMSS is setting up a website, Meaningful Use OneSource, where the group’s experts are expected post “substantive analyses” of the proposed rule, beginning next week.

Follow Diana Manos on Twitter @DManos_IT_News.