Federal panel begins work on Stage 3 meaningful use

By Diana Manos
11:45 AM

Some members of the Health IT Policy Committee on Wednesday cautioned against making the measures required under Stage 3 meaningful use too burdensome. The panel also began to focus on medical specialties.

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Committee member Gayle Harrell, a Florida state legislator said, “We’re learning things every single day. We have an opportunity now to get Stage 3 right.”

Harrell said the committee is on an evolutionary path, learning from Stages 1 and 2. “We really want to get our bang for the buck,” she said.

She also cautioned that specialists be taken into account when developing Stage 3. “We want to use this opportunity wisely and make sure we move forward on a specialist level,” she said. “Seventy-five percent of the cost of care is provided by specialists. We need to make sure we’re not going to go down a track that would not allow every specialty the ability to qualify.”

Harrell also warned about overdoing it when it comes to creating new measures. Crafters of Stage 3 need to make help harmonize measurements with meaningful use with other federal requirements, so as to not put undue burden on providers who want to participate in the meaningful use incentive program.

“We lament this, but we keep doing it. We all recognize that it’s a problem,” said Neil Calman, committee member from the Institute for Family Health. “ Somebody’s got to call a halt to this and we should think about being the first to do that.”

Calman said the new accountable care organization rule also has a new set of measures. “We should pull back,” he said. “I believe the ACO rule is going to dominate right now.”

[See also: Stage 2: Setting the pace.]

Paul Tang, chair of the committee’s meaningful use workgroup, said the same process will be used to develop Stage 3 as were used for Stages 1 and 2 of the federal Medicare and Medicaid incentive plan for healthcare IT adoption. The workgroup will rely heavily on public comment.

“The initial approach is working well,” Tang said of the group’s work on Stage 3 so far. “We still have some major challenges to address. But, they aren’t insurmountable and not unexpected,” he said.

Tang said the workgroup’s past experience in developing Stages 1 and 2 is allowing them to work in “a more proactive way” this time around.

 Follow Diana Manos on Twitter @DManos_IT_News.