August 20, 2013
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The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), an influential research non-profit, is recommending the federal government extend its deadline for healthcare providers to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 standards for their electronic health records, joining growing industry frustration with the Meaningful Use timeline.
In a letter addressed to the secretary of Health and Human Services, ONC director Farzad Mostashari, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the chair of the HIMSS board of directors recommended that year one of MU Stage 2 start on time but be extended through April 2015 for eligible hospitals and through June 2015 for eligible physicians.
As the timeline now stands, MU Stage 2 is set to begin on Oct. 1, 2013, for eligible hospitals, and on Jan. 1, 2014, for eligible professionals. Hospitals and physicians have one year from the starting dates to meet the MU Stage 2 requirements.
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The recommendation stemmed in part from Senate Finance Committee hearings held in June and July about health IT, in which much of the testimony centered on the aggressive MU timeline. Healthcare providers must meet the Meaningful Use standards in order to qualify for federal subsidies for electronic health record software.
HIMSS reported that 68% of eligible hospitals and 41% of tethered ambulatory facilities have purchased the necessary EHR software to meet the 2014 certification requirements, but many might still be waiting for the necessary upgrade to the certified version.
"The speed at which healthcare transformation is occurring requires the healthcare community to develop a realistic approach to ensure the health IT infrastructure, particularly the adoption and implementation of certified health IT products, results in robust and secure information exchange and care coordination," HIMSS chair Scott MacLean said.
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the American Academy of Family Physicians both issued similar recommendations for extensions to the timeline. "The association … is concerned that regulatory expectations of Stage 2 and its existing timeframe will outstrip the capacity of many EHR vendors and ambulatory family practices to comply," the AAFP said in a letter to CMS and the ONC.
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