Meaningful Use Stage 2 a high priority on HHS regulatory agenda

The next few months are going to be chock-full of new regulations affecting electronic health records systems. That's the scoop from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' latest regulatory agenda, submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and published Jan. 20. According to the agenda, EHRs are one of the agency's top priorities for the first half of 2012. HHS has accordingly sent to OMB proposed rules both on Stage 2 of Meaningful Use and on new standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria that EHRs would need to support Meaningful Use.

"The Department continues to encourage healthcare providers to become meaningful users of health information technology by accelerating health IT adoption and promoting electronic health records to help improve the quality of healthcare, reduce costs and ultimately improve health outcomes," HHS noted in the agenda.

OMB has up to 90 days to review rules submitted by agencies, although that deadline can be extended.

The stage 2 proposed regulations could be approved by OMB and published in the Federal Register within weeks, predicted Robert Jarrin, senior director, government affairs for Qualcomm. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka said that process could take as long as 90 days. Both presented on a webinar held Jan. 23.

Other regulations slated for OMB clearance within the next six months include an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on governance for a national health information network and final rules implementing the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act's changes to the HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification rules, including the new accounting for disclosures provisions for users of EHRs.

To learn more:
- read the 2012 HHS agenda

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