While many practices have been struggling to conform to the rules of the first two stages of Meaningful Use (MU) over the past few years, other government agencies are looking forward to the future. By next month, practitioners could have the official guidelines for Stage 3 of MU ready to review, if the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proceeds according to schedule.
Even after the OMB has finished processing these rules, the public will be given the opportunity to comment on the requirements and influence possible alterations. All the same, this represents some changes that practices need to be aware of as they continue to pursue MU standards in their own IT architecture.
The proposal comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is meant to encompass many different possible users. In the text of the rule, the HHS described some of the changes that will come with this new stage if the requirements are accepted.
Specifically, this proposal will float "changes to the reporting period, timelines, and structure of the program, including providing a single definition of meaningful use." The authors of the proposal add that "these changes will provide a flexible, yet, clearer framework to ensure future sustainability of the EHR program and reduce confusion stemming from multiple stage requirements."
According to HealthIT.gov, Stage 3 is the final phase of the Meaningful Use program, and is currently scheduled to take industry professionals through into 2016. The key goal of this stage will center around "Improved Outcomes," as opposed to Stage 2, which aimed to "advance clinical processes."
Although there is still some time before these requirements turn into enacted regulations, practitioners and facility managers should work with healthcare consulting firms to make Meaningful Use goals more reachable.