Federal panel wrangles over timing for MU Stage 2

By Mary Mosquera
09:13 AM

Tony Trenkle, acting CIO at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the health reform law would provide many approaches to achieve similar goals as meaningful use, including ACOs and the national quality strategy.

"These other levers, alone or combined with meaningful use, can accelerate change," he said.

[Related: CMS: Want ACO savings? Start with meaningful use.]

Neil Calman, MD, a committee member and CEO of New York's Institute for Family Health, said that ACOs will become a dominant force even if just a portion of providers who say they will participate do so.

"The ACO movement is going to eat meaningful use for lunch," he said, saying meaningful use is limited in time and funding by comparison.

Health information exchange for care coordination, and not just for the sake of exchange, will be critical in ACOs, he said. For example, it's not enough just to share a patient's lab results, but "have we talked with each other about what our plans are for the patient," he postured.

Dr. Farzad Mosashari, MD, the newly-appointed national coordinator for health IT, said meaningful use offers a path to ACOs.

"To communicate with providers that meaningful use is a way to get a jumpstart on what you're going to need to do to be successful as an ACO is very compelling," he said at his first meeting as committee chair.

To further fine tune its recommendations, the policy committee will adjust its recommendations based on the experience of providers in Stage 1. CMS will open its attestation system for providers April 18.

Over the next several months, CMS will capture how providers' experience is playing out and how that might affect timing, Trenkle said.

Tang doesn't believe demonstrations of experience will come from "the little guy" but from providers who were already there.

"That's why we're in the situation of having to act before we have the data that we'd like to have," he said.

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