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ONC offers sneak peek at meaningful use stage 2 proposed rule

Without releasing the actual meaningful use stage 2 proposed rule, ONC offered HIMSS 2012 attendees a sneak peek at what the new rule will mean for providers and EHR vendors.

The much-anticipated meaningful use stage 2 proposed rule still isn't out, but Health Information and Management System Society HIMSS 2012 conference attendees were treated to an overview of planned changes by federal officials, who expect to present the full rule on Feb. 23.

Among some of the speculation about what criteria and changes will be included in the proposed rule:

  • Providers can expect changes to stage 1, effective in 2013. Whether these changes will apply to those who plan to complete meaningful use attestation before 2013, or only to those who meet stage 1 meaningful use requirements beginning in 2013, remains unclear.
  • Eligible doctors can also look forward to using batch reporting, instead of each physician in a practice filing individually, when attesting for meaningful use stage 2. (Under the current meaningful use timeline, stage 2 will begin in 2014.)
  • Vendors also will see changes to the standards and certification process for their products. The companion certification proposed rule will be released along with the meaningful use proposed rule. One key component of that rule will require technology developers to integrate the Direct Project clinical messaging protocol into their electronic health record (EHR) systems.

That gives an indication of the direction of meaningful use stage 2. Where providers in stage 1 were focused on adopting EHR and starting to navigate systems, in stage 2 they will be expected to exchange the information they've put into those systems with other health care stakeholders, according to Farzad Mostashari, M.D., health IT national coordinator.

By 2014 we're going to see a big push on standards-based exchange.

Farzad Mostashari, M.D., National Coordinator for Health IT

"The big message is, here we come with interoperability and exchange," he told a packed audience at HIMSS 2012. "By 2014 we’re going to see a big push on standards-based exchange."

The meaningful use stage 2 proposed rule will address other key areas of health care, including patient engagement, safety, quality measures and clinical decision support. Providers' needs have been taken into consideration, Mostashari said. "We have done whatever we can to increase flexibility and reduce the burden of these regulations."

The Office of the National Coordinator will discuss these changes in detail when the meaningful use stage 2 proposed rule is released during a town hall at HIMSS 2012.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Jean DerGurahian, Executive Editor or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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