Stage 2 casts mHealth in small role, critical nonetheless
With close to 700 pages to peruse, the newly released guidelines for Stage 2 Meaningful Use and the 2014 Edition Standards & Certification Criteria (S&CC) present a challenge for almost anyone. And for those looking for references to mHealth, the reward is meager: Only seven mentions of the word "mobile" in the final rule and its accompanying final rule for EHR standards and certification.
Still, experts say mHealth will play a significant role in the latest stage of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid's (CMS) electronic health record incentive program, which places the spotlight on coordination of care and paves the way for improved outcomes.
[See also: Final rules for Stage 2 meaningful use released.]
Brian Ahier, a health evangelist for the Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, Ore., questioned in a recent blog why mHealth wasn't given more attention. Ahier said he spoke to Pam Matthews, RN, MBA, the senior director of regional affairs for HIMSS, who said, "We had made comments in several places where mobile could be considered in terms of being a benefit for patient engagement and data exchange, yet in the final rule they remained silent on mobile. HIMSS supports the development of guidelines to achieve transitions of care through patient-centered mobile interfaces. We encourage consideration of including mobile health technology in future stages of meaningful use."
In summation, the CMS guidelines for stage 2 call on providers to determine whether personally identifiable health data is secure while at rest, with the goal of pushing providers to encrypt data when it's made available on mobile devices. In addition, the new guidelines compel physicians to be able to electronically send medication orders for at least 60 percent of their patients (double the percentage set forth in stage 1), and indicates that 30 percent of radiology and laboratory orders be sent electronically as well. By boosting the requirements for computerized physician order entry, CMS is compelling physicians to use mobile devices when they can.
[See also: At a glance: Stage 2 final rule.]
The ONC's companion rule on EHR certification, meanwhile, calls on providers and vendors to include mobile capabilities to accessing EHRs, and indicates it won't require a separate certification process for that process if the mobile app offers the same capabilities as the original version. The ONC goes on further to say that all EHR products must meet HIPAA guidelines and ensure that encryption is included with mobile technology that is used to store electronic health information on "end-user devices."
Robert Jarrin, senior director of government affairs for Qualcomm, which is a member of the HIMSS Advisory Council, sees plenty of opportunities for mHealth to make an impact.