Healthcare News & Insights

Will Stage 3 of meaningful use ease providers’ burdens?

More information is coming out about Stage 3 of the meaningful use program — but it looks like providers will be dealing with familiar frustrations despite changes to the program. 

tired doctor with laptopMany hospital leaders and physicians have complained the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) meaningful use program put a heavy burden on providers trying to attest and earn incentives.

Stage 2 of the program brought a lot of complaints about inflexible requirements and complex quality measures, resulting in continually low participation and attestation numbers.

Now, CMS is giving hospitals a peek at what to expect in the next stage of the program – and it looks like it’ll be more of the same issues.

CDS and certification changes

According to Healthcare IT News, the proposed rules could be the most challenging stage to date, making significant changes in areas like clinical decision support (CDS), quality reporting and certification.

For starters, Stage 3 will separate meaningful use and electronic health record (EHR) certification, which have gone hand-in-hand since the program’s creation.

Pamela Chapman, director of clinical product and regulatory affairs of e-MDs, a healthcare software developer, says this is problematic because it means certification won’t reflect meaningful use criteria, making it harder to buy EHRs and meet program requirements. “We need to know the criteria and what measures will meet our customers’ needs best,” Chapman said. “We need to know which quality programs will require additional criteria for their programs and there is no way to anticipate that.”

Another big change is the increased importance of CDS in Stage 3 as one of the eight objectives laid out for the next stage.

Like Stage 2, Stage 3 will require five CDS interventions. However, some experts have noted that CDS criteria might be more flexible to meet than the proposed rule suggests.

For example, in additions to alerts, CDS interventions can include things like order sets, interdisciplinary sets of care, templates and other tools that help inform clinical decision making.

Continued assessments, looking for comments

One area that continues to be a priority in the program is the emphasis on regular security risk assessments. The program has 54 security measures that fall into one of three categories: physical, technical and administrative safeguards.

Risk assessments continue to be a priority largely because meaningful use continues to spur health IT and EHR adoption.

As hospitals add new equipment and internet-capable devices, it’s crucial they understand how those devices access or store protected health information (PHI) to ensure the proper safeguards are in place to guard data.

Stage 3 of meaningful use could add new hurdles in order to earn incentives and avoid pay adjustments for your facility. So providers have to strategize how to meet these criteria while there’s still time before Stage 3 rules become finalized.

And if the criteria seems too burdensome, leaders should take their concerns to the feds. They’re still accepting comments on the proposed rule and how it impacts patient care.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.