Stage 2 of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’s) meaningful use (MU) program is approaching quickly and includes drastic changes from the relatively simple Stage 1 requirements. But many eligible professionals (EPs) and their practices haven’t even started preparing for the new requirements, often electing to postpone Stage 2 readiness efforts until their vendor delivers a Stage 2-certified product.
What some EPs might not realize is that getting ready for a successful Stage 2 attestation effort can begin immediately – even if they’re still monitoring and attesting for Stage 1.
The first step in preparing for Stage 2 is to organize and prioritize the list of measures. This may seem daunting; even a quick review of the extended list of Stage 2 measures makes the requirements look overwhelming. But Stage 2 changes can be broken down into three categories:
1. Threshold Increases
Current Stage 1 measures for which the thresholds simply increase should be the easiest to prepare for. Since these measures were in Stage 1, certified EHRs already have the capability to meet and report on them. Meeting these measures in Stage 2 is a matter of improving performance, which can start right away.
Many Stage 1 core measures fall into this category. One example is the requirement to record certain demographic information as structured data – the threshold for attestation will move from 50% to 80% in Stage 2.
2. Menu to Core Movements
Measures that have moved from menu to core requirements can also be addressed before a vendor has released a Stage 2-certified product. These requirements were optional in Stage 1, which means that vendor products likely already have the capability to accommodate the measures. Examples include providing timely electronic access to health information and incorporating clinical lab test results as structured data. If an organization previously selected a Stage 1 menu measure that will be a Stage 2 core measure, there may be no additional work involved. For those measures that were not selected for Stage 1, the organization can immediately focus on designing processes and providing training so that EPs and their care teams can begin performing these activities. The organization will also need to start monitoring the additional reports related to these measures.
3. New Measures
New core and menu measures will need the most attention, since they may require different work flows and vendor capabilities. Even so, a majority of the new measures focus on patient engagement, which many EHR platforms already accommodate from a functional perspective (even if the certified reports are not yet available). EPs can begin preparing for Stage 2 by focusing on the functionality already available in their EHR, including recording family history as structured data and introducing patients to the idea of secure electronic messaging.
Molly Oehmichen, Senior Consultant, and Nate McCarthy, Manager, contributed to this post. For more information on MU Stage 2, refer to the Diagnostic on our Web site.
1 Several ”menu to core” movements also include threshold increases.
2 Submission of electronic syndromic surveillance data has an increased threshold but continues to be a menu item.