Interested stakeholders have submitted their comments regarding the Proposed Rule for Meaningful Use Stage 2. Providers and their professional organizations, vendors and HIT industry associations, and consumer groups advocating on behalf of patients have written detailed—and often lengthy—tomes for CMS and ONC to consider.
Sadly, the overly aggressive nature of the proposed requirements for Stage 2 is pitting providers against patients. Providers, with support from the EHR vendor community, express concern that the bar is being raised too high and too quickly to be practical, while consumer groups argue that we would be missing an opportunity by not raising it even higher. The pleas from both sides are equally passionate and well intentioned.
However, this should not be a battle—the fact that it has turned into one is most unfortunate. I believe that all stakeholders are truly committed to the same goal: higher quality, safer, and more convenient care for patients, provided efficiently and at a reasonable cost. Everyone agrees that meeting these goals requires moving towards increased interoperability and greater patient engagement, but it is the specifics of these requirements—as proposed for Stage 2—that are stirring up the controversy.
We need to advance at a reasonable pace, one that is challenging but not overwhelming. The risk of pushing providers to the point where the requirements are perceived to be unrealistic, unmanageable, and overly burdensome—particularly as incentives dwindle to insignificant levels—is that they will abandon the program as unachievable. If that happens, the continued success of the incentive program will be in jeopardy. No one’s goals will be met.