Last year was the first year that eligible providers and hospitals could claim attestation for Stage 2 of meaningful use, and while no one expected the level of attestation to be overwhelming, few predicted that it would be as paltry as it was. As few as 972 eligible professionals and only 10 eligible hospitals claimed attestation as of July 1.

 

The bar for reaching Stage 2 is especially high, so it doesn’t come as a complete surprise the these numbers fell far short of what was hoped. Still, with such an extreme minority of those eligible meeting the criteria for attestation, it suggests that the pace of the project is moving slower than the architects intended.

 

An industry survey revealed that the two greatest obstacles to attestation involved transmission of care (TOC), and view, download, and transmit (VDT) capabilities. This is not entirely surprising considering how much both these issues contribute directly to the technical challenges of EHR interoperability. And, by looking at both these issues moving forward, we can identify some of the stumbling blocks that have kept many from achieving stage 2 attestation.

 

With TOC, the problem seems to boil down to Measure 2, a provision that requires summary of care documents to be electronically transmitted for at least 10 percent of patient transmissions or referrals. For VDT, the problems are more pronounced. This initiative mandates how quickly EHRs are updated, and how easily they can be accessed by patients. Most of the survey respondents said that the technological foundation required for VDT was far from complete.

 

Even more troubling is the revelation that a number of the providers that achieved level 2 attestation did so by earning exemptions from some of the measures required for TOC. It is never good news when lowering the bar is the only way to produce the desired outcome.

 

So the answer to the question, “Who’s ready for meaningful use Stage 2” seems to be, “not many.” The minuscule number of eligible providers and hospitals that have reached this threshold, and the analysis of the causes, suggests that technological problems are largely to blame for the initiative’s failure thus far. That could be because invested entities don’t have enough HIM staff, the right HIM staff, or the management and strategic vision to get more out of their HIM staff. No matter what the cause, the solution is simple – partner with a specialized staffing firm focused on HIM professionals. Start the conversation by contacting MedPartners HIM.

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