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CHIME calls for ‘laser-like focus’ on interoperability and an appropriate timeline to implement Stage 2

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) today urged the federal government to give healthcare providers more time to adjust to recent changes to the Meaningful Use program before mandating new and burdensome Stage 3 requirements. Extending the timeframe for Stage 3 no sooner than 2019 would allow all stakeholders — policymakers, providers and vendors — to fully implement modifications made in October to Stage 2, and to focus energies on the critical issue of interoperability.

“CHIME members are committed to the goals of the Meaningful Use program,” said CHIME Board of Trustees Chair Charles E. Christian, CHCIO, LCHIME, FCHIME. “We have made significant progress in implementing information technology systems to improve patient care and reduce costs. However, we do not believe that the course laid out by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for Stage 3 will help us achieve some important goals, including better alignment of quality improvement efforts and widespread health information exchange. We need to let providers and vendors continue down the adoption curve and perfect systems that many are still putting in place.”

What’s needed now, Christian added, is a laser-like focus on interoperability. Central to that is finding a safe, secure and accurate methodology for patient identification. Also, Christian said, there needs to be a concerted effort to protect patients’ health information from cyber threats and data breaches. Christian also noted concerns among CIOs and IT vendors that the Stage 3 timeline is unrealistic for ensuring that certified products are available in the marketplace.

In written comments to CMS on Stage 3 regulations that were published in October, CHIME called for:

  1. Starting Stage 3 no earlier than 2019 and only after 75 percent of all eligible providers have met Stage 2.
  2. Removing the 2017 transitional year for meeting Meaningful Use Stage 3 and require 2015 Edition CEHRT no earlier than 2018.
  3. Creating a 90-day reporting period for every year of the program, including the first year at Stage 3, to allow providers adequate time for upgrades, planned downtime, fixes related to technology or optimizing the use of new technology within workflows.
  4. Creating parity for both eligible providers (EPs) and eligible hospitals (EHs) by removing the existing pass/fail approach for Meaningful Use.
  5. Reducing the burden for providers by streamlining reporting redundancies and refraining from requiring data collection and submission on measures that do not advance patient care.

“CHIME appreciates the increased flexibility CMS created in Stage 2 and the agency’s willingness to receive comments on Stage 3 regulations,” Christian said. “We are all striving to create a more efficient delivery system; one that improves patient care and lowers costs. CHIME looks forward to working with its partners in the federal government and other stakeholders as we drive towards those goals.”

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