With Stage 2 of the electronic health records meaningful use program now pushed back to 2014, providers not yet participating should take advantage of the extra year to get caught up in Stage 1, advised Debra Alligood White, a partner in the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Presenting during an HDM Web seminar on the proposed Stage 2 rules, White noted that multiple EHR vendors have guaranteed that their products and support will help providers successfully attest for meaningful use. She also emphasized the importance of having extra time for end user training of EHRs.

For providers already engaged in meaningful use work, now is the time to begin internal preparations for Stage 2, White counseled, as vendors have plenty of work to get their EHRs ready.

Providers now should focus on understanding the proposed Stage 2 requirements, educate and engage shareholders, and anticipate and plan for changes in internal workflows and processes, she said. Some changes in Stage 2 are just deeper penetration of existing Stage 1 measures, such as increasing the percentage of patients whose smoking status is recorded. But new Stage 2 measures involving patient engagement and health information exchange will really change workflows, White warned. “So, work on them now while vendors catch up.”

The archived Web seminar, “The Hidden Challenges of Stage 2 Meaningful Use,” soon will be available at healthdatamanagement.com/web_seminars/.

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