Since our article ran in the July issue of Health Management Technology on the impact of delays in defining meaningful use (MU), the long-awaited update to January's interim MU release was finally issued on July 13. MSP is already analyzing the changes and updating its MSP EHR Selector to reflect them. The EHR Selector is a Web-based tool that uses 689 criteria to characterize all EHR products from developers who submit them and are willing to have them independently vetted. Once this update has been completed, MSP will invite (via e-mail) all currently subscribed EHR developers to update their product profile to indicate compliance with the final MU standards. The EHR Selector includes an MU profile that allows all MU criteria to be asserted with one mouse click.
In our preliminary scan of the final MU standard, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) was responsive to concerns raised by the 400 comments received and fixed many of the more onerous requirements of the draft version, removing some of the inflexibility in the interim standards and scaling back some of the more challenging core requirements. These actions should make the final standard more realistic and achievable, one that can actually be implemented by a greater number of eligible providers (EPs). The final MU standard better reflects the reality of current practice and allows time for EHR developers and EPs to become familiar with new DEA standards for electronically prescribing controlled substances and makes implementation less risky to EPs. Under the interim standard's all-or-nothing approach, failing to meet a single MU requirement would have resulted in disqualifying EPs from receiving any payment for EHRs they deployed.
The deferral to Stage 2 MU of the requirement to submit claims and eligibility transactions electronically is good news to many EPs, who now won't have to make major upgrades to or replace their existing practice management systems. At the same time, however, it creates an issue for those regional extension centers (RECs) that pre-qualified EHR developers based on that criteria, as this excluded many EHRs that didn't have an integrated PMS component.
This will be tricky for RECs to correct, because they can't simply review existing requests-for-qualifications (RFQs) to see if the standard was met, since many EHR developers who saw the original requirements may have chosen not to submit a response because they didn't meet the criteria. This means that to do the qualification correctly, the RECs will have to do a second round of RFQs to see what new vendors might now submit.
There is a much faster alternative. Instead of 60 different RECs needing to send out 60 sets of new criteria to EHR developers and then giving these vendors a month to fill in the data, they could use the MSP EHR Selector (www.ehrselector.com) to do all EHR product re-qualifications. For EHR developers on the MSP EHR Selector, the REC re-qualification takes about 10 seconds, once the REC has created a profile that matches its requirements.
This approach is much simpler and would save both EHR developer and REC time and money. MSP has proposed that RECs adopt the MSP EHR Selector as a tool to do continuous EHR vendor qualification, and drop the archaic paper-based qualification process. The MSP EHR Selector maintains REC independence, since each REC can establish its own REC-specific profile of features. This is important since some RECs also need to comply with state or local EHR requirements.
A brief introduction to empower RECs can be seen on a YouTube video (at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Tva9YmKBJs). We invite RECs to get out of the paper-planning mode and get onto the Web, just like they are encouraging their EPs to do.
Follow EHR, MU, certification and related issues in upcoming Health Management Technology issues, or at our two upcoming conferences, Electronic Health Records (EHR) Summit West (www.EHRSummit.com) and Inaugural Digital Medical Office of the Future: Driving Toward Meaningful Use Conference & Exhibition (www.tcbi.org), held on Sept. 9-10, 2010 at the Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas, Nev. Space at the second conference may be limited. Check the July article at www4.healthmgttech.com. Contact Art at 732-219-5090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.