HIMSS: Don't delay MU Stage 2, but give providers more time to attest

Stage 2 of Meaningful Use should start as scheduled, but the attestation period for its first year should be extended, according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

In a letter to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, HIMSS President H. Stephen Lieber (pictured) and Board of Directors Chair Scott MacLean suggested that while it's important for the industry to continue to move forward with the adoption of health IT, there are concerns that many providers may still be waiting for the necessary electronic health record upgrades to meet the 2014 certification requirements when Stage 2 goes into effect. Only 68 percent of eligible hospitals and 41 percent of tethered ambulatory facilities have purchased the necessary software to successfully attest to the Stage 2 certification requirements.

HIMSS recommended that Stage 2 start as planned but that providers be given 18 months in the first year to attest to the quarterly Meaningful Use requirements.

"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," Lieber and MacLean wrote.

HIMSS also recommended that stakeholders collaborate on their plans to complete and implement the certification process, and issued a Call to Action and Position on Meaningful Use Stage 2.

Not all industry stakeholders agree with HIMSS. The American Academy of Family Physicians urged CMS and ONC to grant a one year extension of the time frame for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, saying that the current time frame will "outstrip the capacity" of vendors and doctors.

To learn more:
- read the letter (.pdf)
- here's the Call to Action and Position (.pdf)