No Stage 2 cash for Intermountain

Health system will not attest in 2014
By Erin McCann
01:00 AM
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Intermountain Healthcare

Time and money are in short supply these days, even for folks at the 22-hospital Intermountain Healthcare. And with Stage 2 on the way and a new EHR platform being deployed, they’re feeling the crunch.

“We will not be attesting to meaningful use Stage 2 in 2014,” Marc Probst, chief information officer of Intermountain, told Healthcare IT News. “And frankly, most of my peers are not as well.”

The health system just last fall inked a deal with Cerner to deploy its EHR platform across all its hospitals and clinics, transitioning away from its homegrown system.

Probst didn’t seem too worried Intermountain would be missing out on big incentive money. Right now, the organization has other pressing priorities and not enough resources to do everything at once.

The big priorities taking precedence? ICD-10 and HIPAA. “We don’t get paid without ICD-10. That’s why we’re not going to even try to attest in 2014 to meaningful use because our energies are going into ICD-10 and security.”

Probst, who also serves on the federal Health Information Technology Policy Committee, said he’s worked hard on the committee to get CMS and ONC to delay Stage 2 another year. “That would be the best things for all providers,” he said. “I think there’s good reason to be stressed out,” added Probst, referring to Stage 2.

Nationwide, the jury’s still out on whether most hospitals will be ready for Stage 2 in 2014.

A fall 2013 HIMSS Analytics/directory/analytics" target="_blank" class="directory-item-link">Analytics report suggests that three-quarters of hospitals will qualify for Stage 2 incentives in 2014. Some 68 percent of U.S. hospitals have already purchased 2014 certified EHR technology, according to HIMSS data, but there are concerns many hospitals have not yet updated to the certified version.

Intermountain Healthcare, for instance, just completed certification of its internally developed software, so it will be officially certified this year, yet still won’t be attesting.

For eligible providers, the Stage 2 numbers are, some might say, a bit scary. Although physicians’ EHR adoption has increased 60 percent from 2001, most office-based docs are not prepared for the October 2014 beginning attestation date, with only 13 percent saying their EHR systems have the abilities to support 14 of the 17 core Stage 2 objectives, said a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released this January.

New ONC chief Karen DeSalvo, MD, was among the first people to weigh in on the findings. “The report does also tell us there is more to do, and we agree,” DeSalvo wrote, in a January blog post. “Overall, we are encouraged to see that physician adoption of EHRs meeting meaningful use Stage 2 is increasing significantly and that physicians are recognizing the value of EHRs in the care setting."

Many hospitals and providers, however, are going to be ready for Stage 2.

The two-hospital MedCentral Health System in Ohio, for instance, is slated to be ready for a July attestation, said CIO Mike Mistretta in an interview with Healthcare IT News this past February.

“We’ve got all the software installed at this point,” he said. Now it’s just a question of working toward workflows. The most challenging piece MedCentral is dealing with now involves patient engagement – trying to finish the patient portal, getting patients registered in a timely manner, and then the whole access and download portion of Stage 2.

“It’s going to be a pretty big challenge to meet that,” Mistretta added.

At Intermountain, Probst and his team are going at the pace that works for them. It’s not just a matter of installing the systems, said Probst; it’s about aligning departments and getting people on board.

Right now, he’s spending much of his day working to align the clinical and business people with information systems. “It’s not a difficult process to get them to want technology but also to do the steps that are required from a user perspective to get it implemented,” added Probst. “The alignment is so important.”