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Meaningful Use Rules Give CIOs Wiggle Room

 |  By  
   October 20, 2015

Meeting the new federal meaningful use standards will require much heavy lifting. And health IT leaders should already be preparing for what comes next.

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Meaningful use deadlines took center stage at the annual meeting of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) in Orlando, FL, last week. But attendees also found time to talk about what comes after meaningful use—namely, CCDA and CEHRT.

Liz Johnson

Two meaningful use dates now loom large. The first is December 15, when the 60-day comment period on the stage 3 final rule expires. While some industry observers consider the comment period to pertain just to stage 3, that isn't precisely true. Because ONC and CMS issued a single final rule covering both stage 3 and its amendments to stage 2 in the years 2015, 2016, and 2017, the public has the right to comment on anything in the final rule, says Liz Johnson, CIO of acute care hospitals and applied clinical informatics at Tenet Healthcare, the for-profit hospital operator headquartered in Dallas.

The second big date is February 29, 2016, which is both the starting day of next year's HIMSS conference and the day that all providers receiving Medicare must complete their attestation to their meaningful use of certified EHR software in 2015.

Considering that the final rules amending stage 2 came out nearly a week into the newly shortened 90-day reporting period for 2015, CIOs had to do some fancy footwork to make sure that they were gathering the necessary data starting October 1.

Pam McNutt

Among the lingering questions are challenges in meeting the public health reporting requirements in the newly modified stage 2, which will vary from state to state. Within the CHIME organization, board member Johnson is one of two experts on this devilish detail. The other is Pam McNutt, senior vice president and CIO of Methodist Health System in Dallas.

My October 7 news story on the final rule could only hit some highlights of these voluminous documents. At CHIME, McNutt celebrated the fact that the modified stage 2 rules removed the 50% measure for providing a summary of care record by any means, as well as relaxation of requirements for manual transmission, to better allow providers to tailor the contents of the summary of care document to the transport mechanism, rather than constraining transport to a certified HIE or Direct message.

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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