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CIOs to Farzad: More time for stage 2 meaningful use adoption, please

In a letter to the U.S. Senate responding to the “Reboot” policy paper signed by four Republicans, members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) made their feelings known to Congress that they’d like a one-year extension to stage 2 meaningful use adoption.

In general, however, four CHIME members testified before a joint hearing of two ONC federal advisory committees this week that meaningful use adoption is “essential” to advance healthcare into the 21st century.

The 21st century. As in, out of the late Windows 98 era and into the MySpace era.

CHIME members’ main issue with meaningful use is its rush to adoption; CIOs and their staffs have helped nearly 79% of all eligible hospitals (EHs) and more than 55% of eligible professionals (EPs) received an EHR incentive payment under Medicare or Medicaid since 2011. However, the association said, the structure of the incentive program will create a timing crunch in 2014 when over 500,000 hospitals and physicians are required to upgrade their existing technology to demonstrate meaningful use.

That’s not taking into account other large, concurrent health IT projects coming in 2013 through15, including HIPAA omnibus compliance, ICD-10 adoption and the ongoing support of consumerization (also known as bring your own device or BYOD) of health IT. Since they’re all happening at once, it’s overwhelming for understaffed health IT teams who traditionally have half the budget of their peers in other market sectors such as manufacturing and government.

“All of the objectives listed as challenges require significant work to implement after upgrading to 2014 certified software,” said Pamela McNutt, senior vice president and CIO at Dallas-based Methodist Health System. “For example, after delivery of the patient portal we will have to map data elements from the patient record and clinical staff will need to ensure that the data is representing accurately.”

So just give us a little more time to catch up, said McNutt and three other peers who testified, including Tom Pagano, CIO at HCA Healthcare Capital Division in Richmond, Va. and Rodney Dykehouse, CIO at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine and Randy McCleese, Vice President of Information Systems and CIO at Morehead, Ky.-based St. Claire Regional Medical Center.

“The difficultly in achieving meaningful use, beyond the new, more complex objectives, is compounded by the short timeframes allowed for hospitals to implement 2014 certified EHRs.” said McCleese.

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