5 Tips as you start your planning for Stage 2 Meaningful Use

In reviewing the final rule and all the many blogs/articles about it I got to thinking about what it must be like for a hospital having to face planning how they will meet Meaningful Use Stage 2—all the change in workflows required, technology that needs to be implemented.  I’ve been following Meaningful Use since the original ARRA/HITECH bill was passed in 2009 and did a similar review of Stage 1 preliminary and final ruling when that was released--this just seems to be a bigger undertaking.  So, I thought, how can I help?  Well below are 5 tips if you are an eligible hospital or CAH and plan to attest to Stage 2 in FFY 2014.

  1. How much time do you really have?  Stage 2 has pushed out a year to 2014; for hospitals this means the start of the 2014 Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) which is October 1, 2013.  With the change to a 90 day reporting period for Stage 2, this means the last day hospitals can start their reporting period to attest in 2014 is July 1, 2014.  It seems far off but is it really?  With everything that needs to get done, its best to start planning now.
  2. Are you on a version of your EMR that will get you to Stage 2?  Probably not, Hospitals must be on the EMR version that is certified against the 2014 standards, based on the standards and certification criteria established through the Stage 2 companion ruling from ONC.   This means Hospitals must plan for an upgrade prior to the start of their Stage 2 reporting period.  I have not seen any announcement of when certifying bodies will be ready to certify EMR vendors under the new certification criteria—you should look for this or ask your EMR vendor what their plan is. 
  3. If you have already attested to Stage 1 have you surpassed the Stage 1 thresholds?  All thresholds for Stage 1 objectives have increased—where are you today?  What will you need to do to meet the higher thresholds?  Focus on getting there with the EMR version you are currently on sooner rather than later; this will allow you to focus on the new objectives coming with Stage 2.  Verify with your EMR vendor any changes that might be coming to areas that are supporting these Stage 1 objectives, ensure you are aware of any changes that would impact care provider adoption.
  4. What core objectives have you not implemented?  Objectives that moved from Menu to Core are potentially ones you have not done much with these include:  Generate Patient Lists by Specific Condition, Provide Educational Resources to patients, Medication Reconciliation, Immunization Data Submission, Reportable Lab Results Submission and Syndromic Surveillance Submission plus the addition of lab and radiology to CPOE and the new core objective eMAR.  Where do you start?  Map these areas to the functionality in your current EMR—will you need to wait on functionality from your vendor to support some of these?  When will you get that functionality and when will it be certified?  Are you considering purchasing another system to handle some of these?
  5. What menu objectives have you not implemented and does your EMR support them today?  Imaging Results accessible through EHR, Family History recorded, eRx at discharge, Progress Notes, Labs sent to EPs.  Where do you start?  Identify which of the menu options you will attest to (you need to attest to 3 out of the 6) and then map these areas to the functionality in your current EMR-- will you need to wait on functionality from them to support some of these?  When will you get that functionality and when will it be certified?

As I said earlier, lots to do!  2013 is going to be a very busy year for hospitals and vendors!