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2/21/2012
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Changes Planned For Meaningful Use Rules

HIMSS12 attendees were disappointed when details of Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules weren't revealed on Tuesday, and they were surprised to hear that changes will be made to Stage 1 rules.

Health IT On Display: HIMSS12 Preview
Health IT On Display: HIMSS12 Preview
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Upcoming Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules include some proposed changes to Stage 1, an official from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services said during a Town Hall session at HIMSS12 in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

That disclosure by CMS official Elizabeth Holland was the second big surprise for attendees of a packed seminar on Tuesday morning originally headlined as "Stage 2 Meaningful Use."

The first surprise of the session was Holland's admission that Stage 2 details weren't ready for disclosure at that day's event as many had expected.

So, instead of talking about the anticipated Stage 2 rule, CMS officials talked mostly about Stage 1. That included the revelation that "Stage 1 won't necessarily be the same" once Stage 2 criteria comes out, said Holland.

[ Are you ready for the changes happening in healthcare? Read Healthcare Reform Is Here, Like It Or Not. ]

While Holland would not elaborate on what might change in the Stage 1 requirements, those proposed changes won't impact organizations that have already complied to Stage 1, said Holland.

"Any stage 1 changes to be approved will come into effect 2013," she said, adding that there will be "tweaks to other parts of the program, too."

Many HIMSS 12 attendees came into a seminar dubbed "Stage 2" anticipating details around the proposal for the next stage of Meaningful Use. What many didn't expect was the news that changes to Stage 1 would be included Stage 2.

"Yes, I expected to hear about Stage 2, but I guess we'll have to wait a little," said attendee Charles Scudelari, chief operating officer of Pueblo Radiology Medical Group, a physicians group in Santa Barbara, Calif. Scudelari's organization isn't yet Stage 1 compliant, but he was hoping a sneak peek into what'll be expected for Stage 2.

Still, while Scudelari was surprised at the disclosure of upcoming, unspecified changes to Stage 1 criteria, he didn't expect those changes to impact work that's already underway at his group.

As for Stage 1 Meaningful Use, 191,604 eligible providers have registered to participate in the HITECH Act program so far, said Holland. As of Jan. 13, $1.6 billion in incentive money has been paid out to Medicare providers and $1.4 billion to Medicaid providers.

It is possible that Stage 2 rules could be ready for public disclosure on Wednesday at HIMSS12 during other CMS and Office of National Coordinator for Health IT related seminars. "But I'm not a betting person," said Holland.

Healthcare providers must collect all sorts of performance data to meet emerging standards. The new Pay For Performance issue of InformationWeek Healthcare delves into the huge task ahead. Also in this issue: Why personal health records have flopped. (Free registration required.)

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