As anticipated the HIT Policy Committee voted on June 8, 2011 to recommend delay in Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements for one year.
This delay will only directly affect Eligible Professionals and Eligible Hospitals that will qualify for the CMS EHR incentives in 2011. Those groups were on a tight timeline that required meeting Stage 2 by 2013. Since the final rule for Stage 2 is not expected until June 2012, there is simply not enough time for 2011 EPs and EHs to acquire or upgrade their EHRs with the new functionality in time. The Policy Committee said it bluntly: “compliance with stage 2 meaningful use objectives in 2013 poses a nearly insurmountable timing challenge for those who attest to meaningful use in 2011?.
The vote by the policy committee reflects an important functionality in the governing bodies when potential threats to the HIT adoption arise and corrective action is needed. The 12-5 vote endorsed the Meaningful Use Workgroup’s recommendations to the Policy Committee. The recommendations now move to CMS where acceptance and additional rule-making will take place.
This delay of course now brings numerous questions to the surface: How long will it take CMS to review the recommendations and complete the formal rule-making process? For 2011 Stage 1 EPs and EHs now given another year of elbow room, what will it take to make sure their adoption process does not stagnate? If 2011 EPs can remain in Stage 1 for 3 years, will they only receive 2 years of incentives for Stage 1? And how does a delay in Stage 2 impact Stage 3 timing? What other implications will surface?
The Secretary of HHS has broad authority to extend and modify the EHR adoption program as changes become necessary to support the mission of EHR rollout.This ability bodes well for future success of EHR adoption.