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May 16 2012   1:28PM GMT

Getting to the meat of MUS2: Anticipating meaningful use stage 2

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
meaningful use stage 2, MU, MUS2, Stage 2

Guest post by: Ruby Raley, Director, Health Care Solutions, Axway

If you’re even remotely as interested in meaningful use stage 2 (MUS2) as I am, you’re probably on the lookout for related webinars, white papers, blog posts, articles — anything to find out what your organization needs to do in order to prepare for 2014 without reading hundreds of pages of dry regulations.

So in an effort to spare you some of the homework, here’s my quick survey of MUS2’s most important takeaways.

First: Truly secure interoperability. It’s a fundamental part of achieving MUS2’s objectives and qualifying for its incentive funds, and it’s comprised of two chief elements: security and health record exchange. When you’re focused on exchanging certain key pieces of information — lab results, radiology results, summary of care documents and more — with folks inside and outside your organization, it’s vital that you have a strategy for securely exchanging the information regardless of the technical approach. Information that is critical for care coordination, accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes must be exchanged among a number of organizations and public agencies using various EMR platforms, traditional HIPAA 5010 EDI claims, eligibility messaging systems and HIEs.

The importance of secure exchanges in those collaborations is underscored when you recognize that you’ll be electronically exchanging summaryofcare documentsmore than 65% of the time, and that you’ll be giving your patients online access to this information at least 10% of the time. Achieving these percentages is one of the requirements of achieving MUS2 and being eligible for the incentive payment.

Next up: Conducting risk assessments. Your objectives in achieving MUS2, whether you’re an individual physician or a large hospital, demand a risk assessment. You’ll soon be required to conduct them more frequently, particularly as you open more ports and connections to other providers, practitioners, health information organizations, et al.

Last but not least: Sending data to federal and state public health agencies. This data includes immunization records, lab results, cancer screenings and syndromic surveillance — information that must be reported for both MU compliance and the greater good of all of society. Many public agencies do not use EMR systems and may still require custom, proprietary formats for submission. Others have already moved to NwHIN Connect or Gateway, a national standard recommended by ONC. That standard is based on IHE profiles, an international standard using conversational (i.e., discovery, query and response messaging) service oriented architecture (SOA) for XML-based messaging. It’s imperative that you’re prepared for any method of data conveyance your federal and state public health agencies demand.

My overarching message is to be ready. Assess your systems and capabilities as they relate to interoperability and the secure exchange of health records. Ask yourself:

  • Can I exchange information with the more connected members in my community?
  • Can I exchange information with members who may not have the same EMR system I have?
  • Will I incur unexpected costs in professional services, software upgrades, or infrastructure when I connect to these community members?

The consequences of HIPAA data breaches are reported weekly and range from significant infrastructure costs to remediate the problem, to hefty fines, to even bankruptcy. While it’s no substitute for fully digesting MUS2’s regulation document, let’s avoid that scenario. Let’s think of MUS2 as an answer sheet to a challenging and ongoing test we’re all taking. It is a challenge where the proctor actually allows us to refer to the answer sheet as much as we like. We have no excuse for anything other than an A+.

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