In a prior blog on Meaningful Use Stage 2 (MU2) we compared the current timeline and the proposed new timeline to Stage 2. We concluded that it was probable that MU2 would be delayed by one year from a start date of 2013 to a more reasonable start date of 2014. The question is, what challenges does the next Meaningful Use Stage pose, and how does it compare with MU Stage 1? Those questions were answered, in part, just a couple of months ago.
On June 16, 2011, the HIT Policy Committee conveyed their recommendations to CMS (The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) on the new requirements for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. These are only recommendations, but they do provide the road map to Stage 2. Typically, these recommendations are not adopted verbatim, but if history is any indicator, these proposed policies will compromise the majority of the Meaningful Use Stage 2 final rule when it is published in the summer of 2012. In fact, according to National Coordinator for Health IT, the ONC Chief, Farzad Mostashari, if the past is any indication of the future, the final rule on Stage 2 is, going to look a lot like, what the (HIT) Policy and Standards Committees recommend.
MU2 is not a revolutionary change when compared to MU1. Most of the changes are incremental, and the MU Stage 2 measures recommended by the HIT Policy Committee fall into one of four basic categories. For each category we supply one or more easy to understand examples. For a complete review of the HIT recommendations, readers may refer to the HIT Health IT Policy Committee’s Recommendations to the National Coordinator for Health IT.
Four Meaningful Use Stage 2 Change Categories
- Measures unchanged from Stage 1
- Maintain active medication list for >80% of all unique patients – In Stage 1 the threshold is 80% and in Stage 2 the proposed threshold stays at 80%
- Measures unchanged from Stage 1, except in Stage 2 they are now Core not Menu
- Implement drug-formulary checks with access to at least one drug formulary – this was a Menu measure (not always required) in Stage 1, and in Stage 2 it is proposed to be a Core (always required) measure. MediTouch® already supplies drug formulary checks.
- Measures with higher thresholds in Stage 2 than in Stage 1
- Record and chart vital signs for >80% of all unique patients – In Stage 1 the threshold was 50%, now the threshold is higher
- New measures unique to Stage 2
Many of the new measures are focused on what the HIT committee defines as Advanced Care Processes. Some examples of these new measures that contribute to those processes include:
- Recording a list of patient care team members
- Providing a longitudinal care plan
- Secure messaging with patients
The HIT committee believes that this stage (mandating more Advanced Care Processes) is part of a continuum of more advanced use of EHR technology to ultimately achieve “Better Outcomes”. The HIT committee displays that concept in the graph below.
In their graph, the HIT committee shows that each time they add more measures, the level of difficulty becomes greater; this is where we disagree. They don’t take into account the innovation of EMR vendors, like MediTouch®, and the experience that users gain with electronic tools over time.
For quality reporting there will be more measures to report on, and more measures to choose from. There is a strong possibility that there will be a set of Core Quality measures, and then a set of measure categories; providers may need to report on one measure from each category from the quality wheel on the right (feels like a game show).
MediTouch® Simplifies MU Stage 2
We predict that meeting Meaningful Use Stage 2 will be relatively easy for MediTouch® Meaningful Use Stage 1 users. With Meaningful Use Stage 1, we made the road to success simple and easy to track with our Meaningful Use Report Card®. In fact many of our providers have already attested via the CMS process and some have already “cashed their checks”. We have been tracking the progress of the HIT Policy Committee, and many of the changes they are proposing are already built into MediTouch®. The bottom line, our work on MU2 has already started; so when 2014 begins our users will have all the tools to make the transition to Stage 2 hassle free. Our advice – focus on Meaningful Use Stage 1, with MediTouch EHR® it’s easy money; by the time Stage 2 comes around any incremental changes will be a “no-brainer”.