The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is asking healthcare officials to extend the attestation period for stage 2 of meaningful use to 18 months, instead of the planned timeframe of a year. A formal letter composed by HIMSS requesting the change was intended for Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator of health IT, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.
The letter proposes to keep the targeted start date for attestation, but to extend the deadline for attesting through April 2015 and June 2015 for eligible hospitals and eligible providers, respectively. HIMSS is concerned with providers being unable to install the necessary software upgrades to meet meaningful use standards, though 68% of eligible hospitals and 41% of “tethered ambulatory facilities have purchased the necessary software to attest to the 2014 certification requirements.”
HIMSS is aware of increasing concerns among eligible professionals, eligible hospital, and vendors in meeting the stage 2 deadline and overcoming certification issues, according to a blog post by Tom Leary, vice president of government relations at HIMSS. HIMSS members “Support this recommendation [extending the stage 2 attestation deadline] by recognizing the importance of realistic goals and timelines to ensure that the health sector has the best possible chance to achieve national goals of improving outcomes and lowering cost,” Leary wrote.
Stage 2’s attestation period was originally scheduled to begin this year, until a delay was announced in late 2011. That decision was made at a time when providers were struggling to comply with stage 1 requirement and EHR vendors were failing to find facilities to use their software. The biggest challenge providers encountered during the stage 1 attestation period was installing EHR software and training their employees on how to properly use it, while maintaining their regular productivity. Though employees may now have a better handle on their EHR systems, meaningful use stage 2 will bring a new set of time-consuming challenges, if HIMSS’ recommendation is any indication.