CMS May Unveil Stage 2 Requirements for Meaningful Use Any Day Now

February 16, 2012

CMS’ Stage 2 proposal may be just a few days, or even just a few hours, away. Are you ready?

If the week weren’t exciting enough with the news that HHS will move to delay ICD-10, a proposed rule detailing requirements for Stage 2 of the government’s “meaningful use” EHR incentive program could be just hours away. 

According to Health Data Management, two “knowledgeable” sources have said CMS could issue Stage 2 proposed rules as soon as tomorrow, as the agency wants them out before HIMSS begins next week.

News of Stage 2 rules being hours - or days - away isn’t a total surprise. Stage 2 is a big topic at HIMSS this year, with a number of sessions led by agency officials and industry bigwigs on the conference bill. On Feb. 20, CMS policy analyst Rob Anthony is hosting a pre-conference session called “Achieving Meaningful Use Symposium: CMS & ONC Present Stage 2 - Essential Knowledge.” And on Feb. 22, HIMSS is offering the session “Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs: Meaningful Use Stage 2 NPRM Overview” to attendees (the speaker is still TBA).

For physicians, the good news is CMS would just be releasing a proposal that outlines the potential Stage 2 measures that must be met in order to achieve “meaningful use.” There will be a comment period that follows before the final rule with its deadlines for adherence are set in stone.

What’s troubling is that so many physicians aren’t ready for Stage 2, in part because the requirements are expected to be so much more challenging than Stage 1 requirements.

“Meaningful Use Stage 2 is a big deal,” healthcare consultant Bruce Kleaveland told Physicians Practice. “The requirements are more challenging and practices will have to continue expand their use of EHR in ways that support the quality and patient-engagement goals of the legislation.”

But “because the final rule probably won’t hit until this summer,” Kleaveland says practices will have a decent amount of time to absorb and, if so inclined, comment on the proposed rule.

Researchers at CSC, an IT services provider that serves the healthcare and other markets, recently told Physicians Practice that because Stage 2 requirements are more stringent, providers need to ramp up efforts to engage patients, coordinate care, and capture data for quality reporting.

“What’s at stake in the future is they’re going to be required to do [the optional measures of Stage 1], and if they want to participate in an accountable care organization, they are going to have to do these things to manage a population,” Erica Drazen, report author and managing director of CSC’s global institute, told Physicians Practice.

We’ll keep you posted as more news rolls in.