As the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (IT) at HHS works to implement meaningful use requirements in the adoption of electronic health records (EHR), industry stakeholders have begun to weigh in on the need to delay the onset of Stage 2 in this process. Simply stated, achieving “meaningful use” means that providers must show they are using certified EHR technology in ways that can be significantly measured in both quality and quantity.

Currently in Stage 1 of a three stage, five year process, the meaningful use objectives for Stage 1 are divided into a core group of required objectives (15 for eligible professionals and 14 for eligible hospitals) and additional optional objectives of which a several must be chosen from a set menu of options. Stage 1 will encompass 2011 and 2012, and Stage 2 is expected to commence in 2013 in order to expand on the current required objectives.

In recent comments, stakeholders have urged caution and greater flexibility as this process continues in order to allow more providers to successfully participate. For example, the American Medical Association (AMA) and 37 other medical societies stated in a recent letter to the ONC: “While we support a staged approach to meaningful use, this approach must take into account the current technological realities and the financial and administrative burdens placed on physicians.”

We continue to monitor the progression of EHR/meaningful use implementation and will provide you with periodic updates as deadlines and requirements are set and the process moves forward.