Much like the final rule on accountable care organizations, which reduced burdensome requirements so health care professionals feel able to participate, meaningful use stage 3 hopes to follow a similar tune.
Even as policymakers continue to debate stage 2 criteria, expected to be finalized next year, some Health IT Policy Committee (HITPC) members have cautioned against making the measures required for stage 3 too difficult to attain. The committee hopes that stage 3 develops from what was learned during stages 1 and 2, saying they are on an “evolutionary path” during last week’s HITPC meeting.
Moreover, HITPC members believe officials who create new measures in stage 3 should to be mindful when it comes to the incentive program, which is designed to increase adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) among physicians and hospitals. If the measures are too strict for stage 3 — and do not harmonize meaningful use with other federal requirements — the incentive program will be rendered useless.
Another key topic that emerged from the committee is that specialists be included in the meaningful use discussion. “We want to use this opportunity wisely and make sure we move forward on a specialist level,” said committee member Gayle Harrell, a Florida state legislator. “Seventy-five percent of the cost of care is provided by specialists. We need to make sure we’re not going to go down a track that would not allow every specialty the ability to qualify”
Whether the Health IT Policy Committee’s “evolutionary path” will help yield fair stage 3 requirements is unknown. The workgroup in charge of meaningful use said they’ll rely heavily on public comment, which is helpful when recommendations are made to ONC.