Posted December 24, 2013 by admin in articles

Dec 24: How must providers react to the new meaningful use timeline?


By now the changes to the meaningful use timeline are understood to affect only the end of Stage 2 Meaningful Use and the beginning of Stage 3. As of yet, there are no plans to delay the first year of Stage 2 Meaningful Use although those advocating that change continue pushing for it.

In the meantime, eligible providers in the EHR Incentive Programs need to face the reality that Stage 2 Meaningful Use is underway in 2014. However, this shouldn’t prove itself a problem to providers who have planned for this all along according to Bill O’Byrne, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Health Information Technology Extension Center (NJ-HITEC).
The regional extension center (REC) in New Jersey has helped put numerous eligible professionals on a path to a successful meaningful use attestation in Stage 1 Meaningful Use and in a prepared state for what’s next. In this interview with, O’Byrne explains how the REC is advising its clients for the future of meaningful use.
Do the changes to the meaningful use timeline mean more challenges for providers?
Well, if they’re working with us in the regional extension center, I don’t see any challenges that are added by this. It just gives us a little bit extra time to be able to more meaningfully use the information that patients are giving to their doctors and assembling into electronic health records. So what I see is a benefit in terms of more time mean better quality data. And better quality data is what meaningful use is supposed to be all about.
It should also mean that not only is the data much more rich, but it also allows the vendors who are building these EHR systems and also the health information exchangesthat are pulling it all together into different kinds of registries for meaningful use orclinical quality measures or for EDIS and CHIPRA* or various other things that are used to develop information platforms and analytics to have a broader basis of the data in order to develop better rules and regulations and also better metrics for determining what works better than other things.
*Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act
What are you advising the providers you’re working to make of the timeline change?
There’s no reason to take the pedal off – or, you know, take your foot off the pedal. This simply extends the period of time for those doctors that haven’t been acting as quickly as some of the leaders, the thought leaders in the pack. We have almost 8,000 doctors in New Jersey who are members of the Regional Extension Center, as NJ-HITEC, and that’s a group of maybe 6,200, 6,300 primary care providers in the state and the rest are specialists. We just tell them, “Listen, it’s business as usual from our point of view.”
What kind of feedback are you getting from providers in New Jersey?
We’re not getting a lot of complaints about it. In fact, there are questions about it but not complaints. Most doctors have mapped out a timeline with our help. One of the things they get from us, Kyle, is a work plan redesign and workflow redesign that we update with them all the time and we track. So we have a tool that we use here that tracks where the doctors are in their movement from paper records right through to becoming meaningful users, whatever stage it is. We track them, and if we see they’re either falling behind or a deadline is coming up, we use that database to be able to go out and provide additional assistance.
Is the delay for the beginning of Stage 3 Meaningful Use good for the program?
If extending the periods of time now means that you’re going have better, more rich, more quality data when we get to Stage 3 Meaningful Use, which is where the treasure is at the end of the rainbow, why not?  That’s what we’re supposed to be doing. I’ve been doing this since Day 1 in terms of New Jersey, and what I see is that this is not a hard and fast date, and that’s what I appreciate about the fact that ONC is making these adjustments as they go along. The adjustments are really geared towards improving the quality of care and not rigidly following specific dates or timeframes. I just like the fact that they are aware of concerns and they responded.
The challenge, of course, is that some of the EHR vendors don’t have their systems online as fast as they could because of the recertification issue. There are hardship exemptions that if a provider gets up against a timeframe, we have the ability in the regional extension center to apply for hardship extensions on behalf of a particular provider in terms of the full compliance with the menu items that are in Stage 2 Meaningful Use, for instance.  So if a hardship needs to be looked at, we can pursue it in front of HHS and CMS and ONC and take it where it goes. Source

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