The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is developing a database to aid providers in assessing if their public health agencies and registries can support electronic health records meaningful use requirements for data exchange. However, when the database will be available isn’t clear.

Stage 1 has optional objectives for such data exchange and Stage 2’s objectives are mandatory and more expansive. But many public health agencies, as well as registries for immunizations, cancer and other specific diseases cannot yet accept electronically submitted data.

Responding to public comments from providers that it would be a burden for them to determine the data exchange readiness of multiple public health agencies and registries, CMS agreed in the final rule for Stage 2 to create a database to serve as the definitive information source. CMS in a notice published on May 15 noted information on public health and registry readiness will be publicly available on their website. However, according to information CMS sent to Health Data Management, “no database has been built” and the agency in the notice is requesting additional information.

Stage 1 of meaningful use has an optional menu objective for hospitals to perform at least one test to submit electronic data on reportable lab results to public health agencies with a follow-up submission if the test is successful, unless none of the agencies can accept the data. Additional menu measures enable hospitals and eligible professionals to submit electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies, and submit data to immunization registries if they are able to accept it.

Stage 2 considerably ramps up the data exchange. Hospitals and eligible professionals must in an ongoing manner submit immunization and syndromic surveillance data. Hospitals must have ongoing submission of reportable lab results. Eligible professionals must have ongoing submission of data to cancer cases to a cancer registry, and also regularly submit data to another specialized disease registry. These are required core objectives unless an agency or registry cannot accept the electronic data.

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