CHIME wants 1-year extension of Meaningful Use Stage 2

In response to a call last month from six GOP senators to reboot the Meaningful Use incentive program, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives said, instead, it would like to see more time given to providers, payers and vendors to meet Stage 2 to allow the program to flourish. 

CHIME CEO Russell Branzell and board chair George Hickman, in a letter to the senators, said that a one-year extension of Stage 2 prior to Stage 3 would maximize program success by letting providers "optimize their EHR technology."

They added that more time would help vendors develop technologies to correspond with Stage 3, and policymakers to "assess and evaluate programmatic trends" for creating and finalizing Stage 3 rules.

"An extension is vital for providers, vendors and policymakers to ensure the outcomes sought in Stage 3 are realized," the letter states. "Your report highlights a number of fair and responsible criticisms of the program and it echoes many of the concerns CHIME has voiced over the last three years. But given the nation's increased adoption of EHRs, the increased investments in interoperable solutions and the early-stage transformations encountered everyday by our members, we remain convinced that the trajectory set by Meaningful Use is the correct one."

In a phone conversation with FierceHealthIT, Branzell added that the presence other initiatives--such as ICD-10 and the push toward accountable care--also played a part in CHIME's suggestions.

"If you just look at cycles of technology implementation and change, it takes about double the time of what it took to put it in--the technology project part--to actually optimize it," Branzell said.

"If it takes about a year from the time you get the software from the standards and then get it tested in your environment and get it put in and get people trained, it's going to take another year to get a lot of those benefits."

Branzell admitted that CHIME's recommendations might not fully satisfy Meaningful Use critics.

"I hope this is a cause for discussion and debate," he told FierceHealthIT. "Part of our goal here is to have further discussion about the appropriate timing and pace for change for our industry, knowing we need to make rapid changes."

Branzell expressed similar sentiments in an interview with FierceHealthIT in February, saying that the amount and pace of change are among the biggest problems hospital CIOs currently face.

In January, CHIME called the proposed Meaningful Use Stage 3 thresholds from ONC's Health IT Policy Committee "unrealistic," and asked that ONC reconsider the speed and scale of meeting Stage 3 by 2016.

To learn more:
- here's CHIME's letter (.pdf)