The final rules implementing Stage 2 of Meaningful Use are "largely predictable" and represent compromises, said Farzad Mostashari, M.D., head of the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT.
"It doesn't mean we don't have our eye on the prize, but we need to keep our feet on the ground," he said.
Mostashari, speaking at a National eHealth Collaborative webinar explaining the final Stage 2 Meaningful Use rule and ONC's corresponding rule on the standards for certified EHRs, noted that "we've made an enormous amount of progress as a country," and that there will be a "big push" in care coordination. He also noted that the advances made in certain aspects of technology were "not just evolutionary, but revolutionary," adding that "we didn't have this consensus just a few years ago."
Mostashari also reported that Stage 2 requires much more rigorous testing for certification of EHRs and involves functional tests of interoperability, noting that cross-vendor data sharing is "difficult" but that achieving this is "paramount."
He also acknowledged that the agencies will revisit the clinical quality measures if neccessary. "The bottom line is it's what's best for the patient," he added.
Robert Anthony, with CMS' Office of e-Health Standards and Services, also speaking at the webinar, emphasized that patient engagement "is an important focus of Stage 2" and that CMS believed that eligible professionals and hospitals were in a "unique position" to get patients to use electronic messaging and access their records online.
Steve Posnack, Director of the Federal Policy Division of ONC's Office of Policy and Planning, also speaking at the webinar, noted that the new clinical quality measures may be available by the beginning of October.