The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
has asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other federal officials to extend the deadline by six months for hospitals, physicians and other eligible professionals to meet Stage 2 meaningful-use
criteria for the federal electronic health-record incentive payment program.
Under current rules, provider organizations that have met Stage 1 requirements for at least two consecutive years need to step up to Stage 2 to remain compliant with the program created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Beginning Oct. 1 of this year for hospitals and Jan. 1, 2014, for physicians and other eligible professions, entities will have one year from those starting dates to put together 90 consecutive days of meeting the Stage 2 requirements.
The request for an extension came in a letter
signed by HIMSS Board Chairman Scott MacLean, deputy CIO and director of information systems operations at Partners HealthCare System, Boston, and HIMSS President and CEO H. Stephen Lieber.
The HIMSS leaders asked the feds to leave the Stage 2 starting dates alone, but to give providers 18 months instead of one year to achieve 90 days of Stage 2 meaningful-use compliance. The EHR incentive payment program has, thus far, paid out more than $15.5 billion to 4,024 hospitals and more than 305,000 physicians and other eligible professionals.
Drawing from a database of its HIMSS Analytics market research subsidiary, 68% of eligible hospitals and 41% of “tethered” ambulatory-care facilities—that is, those ambulatory-care providers that receive their EHR
system and services from a hospital—have purchased software upgraded to meet Stage 2 requirements. This so-called 2014 edition software has been tested and certified through a process created by HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
For other providers, however, “There are concerns that many may still be waiting for the necessary upgrade to the certified version,” HIMSS officials said in a letter to Sebelius, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and outgoing ONC chief Dr. Farzad Mostashari.
The six-month extension is “a brief amount of time when considering our ultimate and joint goal of successful implementation of health IT to support care coordination and healthcare transformation,” said Carla Smith, HIMSS executive vice president, in a news release
. Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn