How meaningful is the meaningful use extension?

By Carl Natale
11:13 AM

I admit it. I'm confused by Friday's announcement that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering extending the meaningful use Stage 2 period.

According to the CMS announcement, there are benefits:

  • "More analysis of feedback from stakeholders on Stage 2 progress and outcomes"
  • "More available data on Stage 2 adoption and measure calculations – especially on new patient engagement measures and health information exchange objectives"
  • "More consideration of potential Stage 3 requirements"
  • "Additional time for preparation for enhanced Stage 3 requirements"
  • "Ample time for developers to create and distribute certified EHR technology before Stage 3 begins, and incorporate lessons learned about usability and customization."

I do understand this gives healthcare providers and vendors some breathing room. But not in 2014. John D. Halamka, MD, MS, chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, notes that CMS is NOT delaying Stage 2. Every deadline in 2014 still needs to be met.

This is also a good time to remind everyone that CMS does not plan to formally propose the new rules and timeline until the fall of 2014. By then we will be using metaphors such as "train wreck" or "smooth sailing" to describe the ICD-10 transition.

So I don't understand how this will affect ICD-10 implementation. Tom Sullivan says CMS chose to extend meaningful use instead of delaying ICD-10 implementation. Frankly, I'm not sure the decisions are related.

I am not predicting any kind of ICD-10 delay. But I don't see this extension making 2014 less challenging for procrastinating providers and vendors. And I find it hard to imagine the American Medical Association (AMA) releasing a statement Monday giving ICD-10 implementation a vigorous thumbs up.

How do you think the meaningful use Stage 2 extension will affect ICD-10 implementation?