Providers request Meaningful Use extension

February 26th, 2014 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document Management | Information Management

As the deadline for demonstrating Meaningful Use and adoption of EHRs draws closer, some care providers are seeking an extension of the federal mandate. According to FierceHealthIT, about 50 of the largest health care providers in the United States have signed a letter, requesting a front-end extension to Meaningful Use Stage 2. These organizations include the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the Medical Group Management Association.

"Given that we are well into 2014, immediate attention to these concerns is warranted," the letter states, referring to a need for extended deadlines to 2015 and increased flexibility regarding the number of providers that are able to demonstrate Meaningful Use, the news source noted. "This additional time and new flexibility are vitally important to ensure that hospitals and physicians continue moving forward with technology to improve patient care."

According to Jeff Smith, director of federal relations for CHIME, the focus here isn't on increasing leeway for care providers, but giving rural, critical access physicians and public health institutions time to coordinate their efforts. Smith noted that his organization has been pushing for an extension since May 2013, looking at the reality of the situation and how several programs are coming to a head at once, complicating matters for many medical centers.

While facilities focus on deploying EHRs, ensuring they have adopted the appropriate document conversion services and supporting software will be essential for demonstrating Meaningful Use. Organizations need to examine what exactly is holding them back and overcome these obstacles with the right support infrastructure, be it improved access to tablets and computing devices or advanced document management software.

If medical centers haven't optimized their adoption of EHRs and met federal guidelines, it could become a major disruption of health care services across the nation. This is why increased flexibility of the Meaningful use regulation, as well increased focus on conversion services and information management, will be critical over the next few months.

CHIME's recent letter points out that providers simply need to be given adequate time to not only deploy their new solutions, but learn how to utilize them efficiency, affecting more than IT, but staffing, workflow and care delivery practices as well.

"Furthermore, we believe that an 'all or nothing' approach – where missing a single objective by even a small amount results in failure for the program year – compounds our concerns," the letter states.

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