The meaningful use workgroup of the Health I.T. Policy Committee, which advises the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, is recommending that Stage 2 of electronic health records be delayed by one year to 2014 for providers who attest to Stage 1 meaningful use in 2011.
The rationale is that Stage 1 pioneers who attest in 2011 should not be penalized by tight timeframes next summer for getting ready for Stage 2, which starts in fiscal 2013 on Oct. 1, 2012.
In a draft letter to National Coordinator Farzad Mostashari, M.D., the policy committee notes it has heard from vendors and providers that the current schedule for Stage 2 compliance "poses a nearly insurmountable timing challenge" for those who attest to meaningful use in 2013.
"With the anticipated release of the final rule for Stage 2 in June, 2012, it would require EHR vendors to design, develop and release new functionality, and for eligible hospitals to upgrade, implement and begin using the new functionality by the beginning of the reporting year in October of 2012."
Stage 2 for eligible providers is on a calendar year schedule and starts on Jan. 1, 2013. "The proposed delay in Stage 2 would only affect those EPs and hospitals who attest to Stage 1 MU in 2011," according to the draft letter. "Those who attest to Stage 1 for the first time in 2012 would continue to have the same expectation (2014) for meeting the Stage 2 criteria."
With the proposed schedule change, providers would continue to be able to collect Stages 1 and 2 incentive payments for two years each, while not penalizing the early Stage 1 adopters with an unrealistic deadline for Stage 2. The draft letter and a PowerPoint presentation from the June 8 meeting of the HIT Policy Committee are available here.
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