The government’s meaningful use health record incentive program is at a turning point. Stage 2 went into effect at the start of 2014 and compromises some of the program’s most ambitious initiatives. Stage 3 is set to go into effect in 2016, but many are already calling for a revision to the program’s initial plan and schedule

Various successes and failures born out of Stage 1, and hesitation over the course of Stage 2, have produced a wave of vocal criticism over meaningful use. There is a multiplicity of voices adding to the conversation, but most of the prescriptions fall into two categories. We’ve briefly explored both sides to help you understand the state of meaningful use right now.

Side A – Eliminate Stage 3

Data collected concerning Stage 2 attestation paints a bleak picture. So far, only 447 eligible professionals and eight eligible hospitals have attested, down from a 59% attestation rate in Stage 1.  Those figures are not expected to rise significantly by the end of the year. Some have forecasted only 20% attestation by then, and high levels of program abandonment.

Given the struggle that many providers are clearly facing to meet the standards of Stage 2, some are calling for the elimination of Stage 3 entirely. They wonder if a program with marked flaws should continue forward on an arbitrary schedule if it’s not producing the desired outcomes.

Much of this criticism comes from a camp that believes the goals of meaningful use are better left to market forces rather than government intervention. They disagree on the exact role that markets and legislators should take, but they view the current set of government mandates as either arbitrary or overly ambitious. Until that mix can be better defined, however, these critics believe that the 2016 Stage 3 deadline should be canceled.

Side B – Revise Stage 2

An opposing group of commentators believes that the schedule set for meaningful use is reasonable, and that the goals of Stage 2 and 3 are attainable, but that the prescriptions, policies, and standards outlined by Stage 2 need to be strategically revised.

These critics point to a number of mandates that are redundant, nonsensical, or simply irrelevant. Revising or eliminating these mandates carefully would streamline the attestation process while producing better outcomes, they claim.

Instead of advocating for more emphasis on market forces, this camp recommends enlisting the help of professional societies. These groups are uniquely equipped to steer meaningful use in a direction that better reflects the real responsibilities of doctors, nurses, and other stakeholders.

Both sides have been vocal, and their influence is real, but it will ultimately be up to policymakers to chart the course of meaningful use moving forward. Follow along with our staffing professionals at MedPartners HIM as we continue to track the course.