While many providers are still contemplating whether to get their feet wet with Meaningful Use Stage 1, others are well on their way to preparing for Meaningful Use Stage 2. Eligible providers who have started submitting data for Stage 1 will be eligible to meet Stage 2 requirements in 2014.
The Differences Between the Stages
The purpose of Meaningful Use Stage 1 is to focus provider efforts on electronic health record (EHR) implementation and lay the groundwork for future EHR use. Stage 2 builds on that foundation and zeroes in on leveraging the technology more effectively.
There are some key differences between the stages. While both require providers to meet a total of 20 objectives, the number of core (required) versus menu (there is some choice here) objectives is different. Stage 1 requires providers to meet 15 core objectives and 5 out of 10 menu objectives; Stage 2 requires providers to meet 17 core objectives and 3 out of 6 menu objectives. Many of the objectives are the same in the two stages, however, the reporting thresholds have increased as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expects that providers who reach Stage 2 will be able to demonstrate meaningful use for an even larger population.
Clinical quality measure (CQM) reporting is also expanding under Meaningful Use Stage 2. While Stage 1 requires providers to report 6 out of 44 CQMs, Stage 2 requires 9 out of 64. The CQMs are set up to follow the 6 HHS National Quality Strategy (NQS) Domains. This includes patient and family engagement, patient safety, care coordination, population and public health, efficient use of healthcare resources, and clinical processes/effectiveness. Providers must ensure their selected CQMs come from at least 3 of the 6 domains.
In 2014, providers choosing to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements only have to submit data for 3 months. In subsequent years, this reporting period will expand to the full calendar year. Although many providers will continue to use attestation for CQM reporting, there are some eReporting pilots underway.
To best prepare for Meaningful Use Stage 2, provider practices should reach out to their business partners and vendors to ensure they are certified to meet the new requirements. To be fully ready, practices may need to upgrade a vendor solution and get trained on how to navigate any changes.
In addition, practices should educate providers and staff on the new requirements so everyone is on board before beginning compliance efforts. CMS offers a valuable resource practices can use to get up to speed and dig into the details.